27 thoughts on “When Pets Die-Human Hearts Break

  • October 13, 2010 at 9:33 am

    My pet is a chocolate labrador named Bruce. He is only two years old. I work from home and so he is very close to me, sometimes I think closer to me than to my husband who works a 9 – 5 job. I am terrified of the thought that he might have an accident and sometimes think of him getting old (he’s already getting grey hair on his chin). I think I will find it very difficult when he goes and am not sure if I would hurry into getting a new dog as I think it is better to get over the death of the first pet before getting a new one.

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  • October 13, 2010 at 10:16 am

    As a grief counselor who also specializes in pet loss, I thank you for helping to shed more light on this important topic. (See, for example, my recent blog post, “Is Pet Loss Comparable to Loss of a Loved One?” http://griefhealingblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/is-pet-loss-comparable-to-loss-of-loved.html ) The grief that accompanies the loss of a cherished animal companion is no different from that experienced when a loved family member has died, and a bereaved animal lover is just as deserving of all the support we can offer.

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    • October 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm

      Mary: Thanks for your comments and the additional blog for our readers to read about the feelings attached to the loss of a pet – Thanks for the work you do – Suzanne

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  • October 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    J your Blog Manager here…I almost cried in a crowded coffee shop reading all the examples of beautiful person / pet bonding.

    Thanks for this!

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    • October 13, 2010 at 5:37 pm

      Jessica – Thanks for your comment – people are remarkable as are the pets they love – Suzanne

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  • October 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Dr. Phillips,

    In almost all cases, it is inevitable that pets will die before their owners. We are aware that the special companion in our lives will bring the heartbreak of passing. Something we defensively protect ourselves from when it comes to family, is essentially impossible given the lifespan of an animal.

    What does it say about the human experience that we knowingly (perhaps, unconsciously) are inviting the pain that goes with the love of owning a pet?

    As a pet owner, I understand that the time connected may outweigh the heartbreak, but is there something more psychologically dynamic underlying this reason?

    Thanks! Your blog is an inspiration.

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    • October 13, 2010 at 9:59 pm

      Goidon: Thanks for your comment. I think it is human to fear that something we love can be lost. I think, however, it is our resilience to risk love of our pets even without guarantees of ” forever” that makes us go forward treasuring every day with them. In the end, perhaps our best defense against life’s unknowns is connection and that is something we give and get from pets. Thanks for your interesting thinking – Suzanne

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  • October 13, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    When my Lori took sick we knew what to watch for and when it would be time to bring her in to be euthanized. During the night, a tumor ruptured in her lungs, she was drowning slowly. Our other three dogs brought her every toy and bone they’d ever hidden, buried, or could find. Finally when none of that worked they woke my husband and me up, they way they did when something was wrong.

    Lori was coughing and sneezing blood. It was time. We gave her some pain medication, called the vet, put the three dogs in the car and went to designated place. We all hugged and kissed her, held her in our arms. At some point we told the vet we were as ready as we were going to get, painlessly and mercifully she drifted away to another place.

    We brought Lori home. I washed all the blood off of her, and laid her on her favorite blanket. The three dogs sat watch that day. My husband went and rented a Bobcat with an auger, the ground was frozen, it took six hours to dig the grave.

    Lori was wrapped in her blanket, beside her was her collar, and a Mezzuah, “May G-d bless and watch over your comings and goings,” I said. We buried her with more tears than dirt that day. All of our love for her and all the love for all those we’d ever loved and lost poured out of us that day.

    It has been three years, eight months and thirteen days since we said our goodbyes. On cold winter days we look out at her gravesite a little more often than usual; and year round our three other dogs still go over and sleep by it for a while each day. The never walk on her grave or dig by it. They know.

    We no longer grieve openly for Lori, our pain has subsided, but our love for her endures. We miss her.

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    • October 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Nanette: Thanks for your touching story of the passing of Lori – It sounds like she was loved by one and all and will always be remembered – Suzanne

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  • October 14, 2010 at 3:29 am

    We work with the Cinnamon Trust which encourages the elderly to take their pets with them when the time comes to move into a nursing home etc. Therefore this subject matter is closely connected. I have retweeted this article to our followers on Twitter –
    http://twitter.com/maps4pets

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  • October 14, 2010 at 9:10 am

    My S/O lost 2 beloved parrots Chiquita a Sun Conure & Buddy a Green Cheek Conure, to the combination of extreme heat & cold while up in PA 2 weeks ago.They were w/us 7&9 yrs.My S/O was devasted & blames herself for not being more diligent. I bought her a Hahns Macaw, & she fell in love w/ it almost immediately. She is busy cuddling it,talking to it, & teaching it to talk amomg other things. It really has helped her cope w/ her loss. We know that the new bird will never replace the other two, but will ease the pain somewhat.

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    • October 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      William- thanks for sharing this story of loss and on-going healing. It does underscore that everyone takes this journey in different ways. Best to all – Suzanne

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  • October 14, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you so very much for your kind endorsement of my book in your article. It means so very much to know people with your education and background find “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” to be of merit in healing grieving hearts. Wishing you all the best.

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    • October 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm

      Sid: I think your book offers valuable validation and help when faced with the loss of a beloved pet – Thanks, Suzanne

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  • October 19, 2010 at 1:04 am

    I am so touched to read about this post.. My lovely Maltese, Baby had passed away exactly a year from tomorrow.. It is weird but I still do cry and teared up when I thought of her.. She was so close to me that I would trade my lifespan to lengthen hers.. I will never forget the day she left me.. And whenever I read about rainbow bridge, I secretly wish I can meet her there soon.. Secretly coz not all ppl around me can understand the pain I have..and some would wonder why I am so upset over a pet

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    • October 19, 2010 at 1:28 am

      Serene: So glad you found this helpful. It sounds like Baby was a precious pet – hold on to all that she gave you – Best regards, Suzanne

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  • October 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    My cat, Sammy, who was 18 years old (I had her for all but 4 early years of my life) died while my family and I were on a short weekend trip to Worlds of Fun. Towards the end she had been diagnosed with Renal Failure, and had gone from 20lbs to a bare 5lbs. We knew the end would be coming soon, as she had been hospitalized for a week at one point, but she was still acting normally, able to get around, eat and drink. Which was why when I found her after getting home on a Sunday night, I was in shock.

    Sammy was the first cat I ever had die, and the first pet I ever owned. I had had hamsters die, but even though I loved them and grieved for them all when they died, it didn’t feel like anything next to Sammy. She was there all through grade school, high school, and when I received my college degree. I could never, ever forget her or how much she gave to me.

    I’ll be burying her today. Rest in peace, Baby Girl. My Angel Cat.

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    • October 19, 2010 at 6:38 pm

      Kovitlac: I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your special little Sammy. Thank you for sharing this loss with me and our readers. I am sure that many want to reach out to support you and I know you will carry all that you and Sammy shared forever – Take Care – Suzanne

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  • January 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    We lost our 4 year old toy yorkie named Mafalda just two days ago (jan 23, 2012) due to a disease caused by ticks. My wife and I are in so much pain because we lost our little girl. The disease was a silent killer and was detected too late. Our little dog had survived falling from 3 floors up, attacked by another dog and other things. She was a fighter and she came to my defense one day while walking her and our other dog a jack russel. A pit bull came to pick a fight with my jack russel and Mafalda jumped out of our stroller to defend us (I was walking the dogs and my 1 year old son). She was willing to put her life on the line for us. A few days later without much warning the tick disease would take her strength and her life very quickly.

    I would also trade many of the years I have left to have her longer. This blog is full o wonderful stories that are helping me understand that it is ok to feel so sad. I miss her and mourn her like a daughter.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express how I feel about one of the most wonderful creatures I have had the luxury of spending time on Earth with.

    Braden

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    • January 25, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      Branden: I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your brave little yorkie, Mafalda. It is, as you suggest, excruciating to lose a precious family member like this little one. I know that readers can feel the pain and love that you are describing. I know that much as I encourage people to hold on to the memories and special presence of a beloved person they have lost, you will carry the special presence of this family member with you always – as they say- her little footprints are on your heart – take care and thanks for sharing – Suzanne

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      • February 9, 2017 at 9:56 pm

        I know it’s hard. I lost my baby.He was euthanized because of my carelessness. I’m sad depressed and fullof guilt. I feel your pain. I’m not sleeping well.Hope u get through it.But never forget. He was family

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      • February 10, 2017 at 11:18 pm

        Thanks Cathy and I am so sorry for your loss. Hold on to the precious memories. Those we love remain a part of who we are – Thanks for your comment -Suzanne

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  • May 5, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    I have a 14-year-old Maltipoo who is in excellent health still othe than some hearing loss which I’ve since worked on getting him fitted with a hearing aid. I’m concerned that when he passes I will die as well because I don’t have anybody else really in my life that I’m that close with.I have had him since he was eight weeks old and he sits by my side all these years while I work. I do believe I will be one of those people that dies when my dog dies as much as I hate to say it. I worry I don’t have much time left.

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  • January 7, 2019 at 12:10 am

    My heart is broken. My beloved 16 year old Chihuhua Montana I had to euthanize, the doctor who was so nice to her before was cokd and hurt my girl whom I had ro comfort! She shouldn’t have gone out that way! She died Octover 25, 2018 and for 3 months i cry non stop! I scream her name and apologize for the doctor hurting her. I visit her grave and cry. I cry for hours! I sleep with her teddy bear. I wanted to get a new girl to help my grief and carry on her legacy but three tried to scam including a rescue and one of them found me on a groef site. My girl helped calm my anxieties. I can’t function without her and have no money or transportation to get a new girl yet. I miss my girl so much! My cat at first wouldn’t go near me. He’s fine now but he’s 18 and if he dies it’ll break me! I have no one but my gone girl and my cat! I need a dog to take care of! A neighbor took me to a shelter to visit the dogs but wouldn’t help me adopt. She won’t tske me back. I can’t even rememver the shelter name or street! The Pitbull mix we shook hands just like I did my girl and he comforted me but knew I couldn’t take him. I find myself crying and hating the world because my girl isn’t in it! I’m crying as I write. The pain of Montana’s loss is literally unbearable! I need a new dog but can’t get one. I want my family back of my cat and dog! I can’t bear my grief!!!! My girl was everything! I’m almost 60 and I need a dog to tske care of into my old age so my own problems I can forget raising a new dog! Oh the pain and misery is overwhelming! I’m so depressed without my girl!

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    • January 7, 2019 at 6:39 pm

      Lisa: I am so sorry to hear of your loss and the pain it is causing you. I can appreciate your frustration at not being able to adopt a new little girl yet. Often when someone is suffering from loss – i invite them to consider that they carry the lost love one with them. Your little one will always be a part of you. Remember how she made you laugh and feel comforted. Write a story about her and when you have the strength you will find the person or means to adopt a new little one. You clearly have a lot to give. You have a right to feel self-compassion. Try to build up your strength physically and emotionally to prepare to make the right decision or come up with a plan to eventually embrace a new pet. Thanks for sharing. I wish you the best –
      Suzanne

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  • October 4, 2019 at 12:15 am

    When my dog Jasper died suddenly 23 years ago, I felt I had a huge hole in my heart. Even now, the grief can bring me howling to my knees.

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