Despite being a fairly common occurrence, losing a close animal companion after developing a bond and sharing time together is not easy for most people. It can be even more difficult for children, especially for a child who has not known life without the beloved pet. Like grief stemming from other types of loss, the experience of losing a pet can evoke all kinds of emotions, including guilt and fear, in addition to sadness and anger.
Finding more information and learning about how to better cope with pet loss can help the grieving process immensely. The websites compiled below have been selected as excellent resources for wisdom and tips on talking to children about pet loss, preparing for an animal’s death, navigating the complicated decision of euthanasia, and memorializing a deceased pet. Many sites also offer chat rooms, forums, or message boards through which one may communicate with others who are undergoing the loss of an animal. Sharing the experience can be very therapeutic, and can open visitors up to new methods of coping or ways of commemorating a lost pet.
- Pet Loss Grief Support: This message board is a moderated resource for those who have lost pets. Visitors to the site can read and make posts in a grief support forum, view online galleries of pets who have passed on and post their own artwork, connect with others in their area for events, and access The Underground Petbaby Railroad, a forum for people to arrange transportation for pets they have adopted. The parent of this site, PetLoss.com, also provides information on pet illness and grief counseling.
- The Animal Health Foundation Blog: The Pet Loss and Bereavement category of this blog, which is run by the not-for-profit Animal Health Foundation, offers archives of posts discussing various aspects of the topic. Viewers can read informational articles from experts as well as stories about pets and access coping and grieving tips in addition to support resources. This blog also offers a Quality of Life survey, which is meant to enable pet owners to be better able to make objective and informed decisions about treatment for an ill pet.
- Pet Loss Hotline: This hotline is run by a group of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine students who have received training in grief counseling from a licensed therapist. Hotline staff can be reached by telephone or email year-round, though hours are shortened during university breaks. Site visitors can also find other pet loss resources; access information about the grieving process, bereavement support, and pet memorialization; read pet stories from other site visitors; and take part in the WSU Pet Memorial Program.
- Pet Loss at Home: The founders of this site work to make home euthanasia services available for terminally ill pets nationwide. Visitors to the site can obtain information about the cost and process of home euthanasia, learn where these services are offered, and access lists of media resources and support groups for pet loss. The site also offers information to veterinary clinics and has a blog and forum for questions about pet loss support, euthanasia, and related topics.
- Pet Loss Canada is a nonprofit bereavement support organization that works to provide help and support to those who have lost an animal companion. Veterinarians, volunteer counselors, and others who provide pet support can register to take courses and pursue education on pet loss support. Visitors to the site can also access resources such as a loss workbook, a blog, and news articles. In addition, the site features an “In Memoriam” wall where readers can post stories, poems, or pictures of their pet.
- Pet Loss Help: After losing an animal, many find it helps to be reminded others have had similar experiences and gone through the grieving process after a beloved pet has died. Pet Loss Help features a memorial hall of fame with images and stories of all kinds of pets, including dogs, cats, horses, and more. If you find writing about your positive memories of your pet and reminiscing therapeutic, you can also submit your own stories and pictures to the blog.
- Help with Pet Loss offers information and wisdom for not only people grieving the loss of an animal, but others who may be confused by the process in general. One article, titled I Don’t Get It, explains the importance of honoring another’s experience of loss and why it can be problematic to minimize someone’s grief. Another section of the site details the Dos and Don’ts of offering support and some tips for empathizing with someone who has lost a companion animal.
- Chance’s Spot: Especially great for kids, Chance’s Spot has articles and activities for every stage of owning a pet—not just preparing for and coping with loss. The site reassures viewers that sadness, anger, and other emotions are natural parts of grieving, and encourages children to honor their feelings and take time to experience their loss. Other resources include articles for parents and teachers, tribute posts, and support for animal caregivers experiencing compassion fatigue.
- The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB): This nonprofit organization hosts regular chat room discussions on pet loss and anticipatory bereavement, which are free and open to the public online. A section on euthanasia offers information about this difficult decision. APLB also shares wisdom about the impact of loss on other animal companions—an often-overlooked effect of losing a pet. If you are inspired to help others through the process of grieving, APLB teaches a course in becoming a pet loss counselor.
- The Pet Loss Support Page: Moira Anderson Allen, MEd writes articles on this site about everything from helping children cope with pet loss, to euthanasia, to breaking the power of guilt. Allen brings an academic, yet empathic approach to educating visitors about various emotions that may be present during the grieving process. If you are a counselor, educator, or parent, or if someone you know is experiencing pet loss, you can also print the many free brochures provided on the Pet Loss Support Page to help others.
If you know of a website you would like us to add to this list, please recommend it here.
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