FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JULY 30, 2020 • COPING WITH DEATH • THE QUEENS COURIER 27
coping with death
How to grieve a long lost pet
Th e loss of a beloved pet can be a traumatic
experience for a child, a lonely
senior citizen or anyone who has cherished
an animal companion.
In many homes, a pet provides aff ection,
friendship and loyalty. Th us, in time,
the companion animal truly becomes an
important member of the family.
Grief, which results from the death or
loss of a pet, involves a diffi cult set of
emotions and problems which may take
time to work through.
It wasn’t too long ago that people did
not believe that it was okay to grieve for
Now psychologists and grief counselors
recognize that sorrow for a pet is a very
real emotion akin to grieving for a lost
friend or relative.
A family veterinarian, who has helped
to care for a pet, understands the emotional
bond with a pet.
Mourning the loss of a pet is normal
and should not be a cause for embarrassment.
Pet owners experience the same
stages of loss that everyone undergoes
aft er the loss of a beloved family member
or friend, including denial, bargaining,
anger, grief, and resolution.
In some cases, the anxiety and sorrow
over the loss of a beloved pet may be
greater than that experienced at the death
of a friend or relative and the pet owner
need not feel guilty about it.
Guilt can arise when one has to determine
if it is time to end the life of an animal
that is in pain or distress, and has no
hope of recovery even with the best of veterinary
Th e veterinarian and the pet’s family,
including children, should understand
and decide together to do what is most
merciful for the pet and the family.
When a pet dies, burial or cremation are
choices for disposal of the pet’s body.
Th e place of burial can vary from a
backyard to a pet cemetery, depending on
the size of the pet and the laws or ordinances
of the family’s community.
When a pet’s body is cremated, the family
may ask the veterinarian to dispose of
the ashes, or they may take them to scatter
in a favorite place, or keep in an urn at the
pet owner’s home or pet cemetery.
Your local veterinarian may be able
to help arrange a funeral service complete
with casket, fl owers and memorialization.
Such a service can be an enormous
comfort to the persons who loved the pet
by helping them demonstrate their aff ection
for the pet and accept the fi nality of
their loss — a necessary step in the recovery
Th ere are many ways to memorialize
a beloved pet — placing fl owers on its
grave, installing a permanent marker or
planting a tree.
A good thing to do is to make a contribution
of time or money to a local animal
shelter, or to one of the many organizations
that are trying to save the world’s
A local veterinarian or funeral director
can provide advice in helping say goodbye
when a beloved pet dies.
Th is article was prepared with research
material from the New York State
Veterinary Medical Society and Guideline
Publications “Death of a Pet.”
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