Saying Goodbye to My Best Friend: Coping with the Loss of a Canine Companion
Dogs offer us unconditional love, comfort, and companionship, and their presence in our lives can be a source of joy and stability. But when they pass away, we're left with a deep sense of loss and grief. If you're struggling to cope with the death of your dog or other beloved pet, know you are not alone. Many pet owners experience profound sadness and pain after losing a furry friend, and it's important to give yourself time to grieve and process your emotions.
Let’s explore different ways to cope with the loss of a canine companion, including finding support from loved ones and therapists, practicing self-care, dog memorial gifts and more. Whether you're in the midst of grieving a recent loss or simply looking for ways to honor your dog's legacy, we hope this post will provide comfort and guidance during this difficult time.
Coping with Grief After Losing a Dog
Before I get too far along, I have to confess something. I haven’t always been sympathetic nor understanding when a friend lost a beloved pet. There is an infamous story in which I told a former boss the equivalent of “Move on, we have a game to win” hours after their family dog passed away but we simultaneously had a big work project to complete. To this day, I cringe over that story and my insensitivity. It wasn’t until we unexpectedly lost our adorable toy Australian shepherd Snickers that I finally understood the pain of losing a furry friend. Isn’t that how grief works? Grief reshapes us and softens some of our rough edges. It makes us more empathetic and gracious as we navigate substantial loss. Many pet owners walk through the traditional stages of grief after losing a beloved animal. Those stages include shock, denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, sorrow and acceptance. Depending on how strong the bond was will affect how long each stage lasts. Don’t feel pressure to rush through the stages. Grieve on your own timeline. However, there are various ways and tips for coping with the loss. From seeking support via your family or a trusted therapist to finding ways to honor the pet’s memory, you can find peace along the grief journey.
Until we lost our adorable toy Aussie “Snickers,” I didn’t understand how substantial the loss of a pet could be.
Honoring Your Canine Companion with Remembrance Jewelry
Pet remembrance jewelry is a physical way to feel connected to your beloved friend. On those hard days when you miss their warm snuggles or faithful tail-wags you can hold on to a beautiful personalized pet necklace and know they’ll always be with you in spirit. Laurelbox even offers customizations for dogs, cats, horses and birds! There is something special in seeing the name written out of someone you love. A necklace with paw prints and their name is the perfect way to keep them close long after they are gone.
Pet Memorial Candles as a Tribute to Your Dog
Another way to mark your beloved pet’s life is a pet memorial candle. Candles can create a calming atmosphere and help encourage peaceful mindfulness. Pet memorial candles can be lit to honor an animal’s place in our lives and time with our family. Check out these pet candles from Laurelbox that are both beautiful and meaningful. We especially love dog memorial candles that include your pet’s face on it with room for a message. When you are missing your pet, take a few minutes to make a soothing cup of tea, light a candle with their name or face on it and write down your favorite memories of them (good and bad!) that made them so special. Journaling can help the grieving process too.
Finding Comfort in Memories and Shared Experiences
That leads us perfectly into sharing our favorite memories of our beloved dog or pet with those in our circle. Go back and look at pictures in your phone or printed photographs and make an album through Shutterfly or create an old school scrapbook that can become a treasured memento of their time on this earth. An important part of the grieving process is to remember and honor their life and one way to do that is by sharing stories. When my sister lost her beloved short haired dachshund Scotch we loved reminiscing over his antics and his reputation as “the worst dog ever” for his ability to cause mischief. So much of our lives are shared through social media – for better and worse. Take some time to write a post that honors your pet and shares your favorite stories and pictures. Not only will it feel comforting in the short term, each year it will pop up as a memory that will make you smile and remember your time with him or her.
Sharing stories of our beloved pets can help the grieving process. Years after my sister said goodbye to “Scotch,” her black dachshund, we still laugh about his reputation as a terrible dog, seen here attacking his sister during a photoshoot.
Setting up a Memorial Shadow Box
Don’t forget pet shadow boxes are another great way to honor their life and display some beloved keepsakes. Pick up a box from your local craft store and choose a favorite picture of the animal (or have one painted) along with a few items that belonged to them. The memorial shadow box could include their collar, a favorite toy or even their adoption papers from when you brought them home. Place that shadow box somewhere special in your home so every time you walk by and see it, you think of the sweet times together. For tips on creating a memory shadow box, check out this post.
Pet memorial gardens can be a physical spot you create that honors their legacy. Plant a small pet memorial garden in a pot or somewhere in your yard. It could be your dog’s favorite place to sun or bury bones. Add a memorial garden stone, plant some flowers and create a special place to honor your pet. When you are missing them, sit in the fresh air and reminisce over the years you shared.
We hope this post gave you some good ideas for honoring your pet’s legacy. Remember, there isn’t just one way to remember your beloved four-legged friend. From pet memorial gardens to candles to sharing your favorite stories, take time in your grief journey to cherish the memories of your beloved pet. Though they are no longer physically here, their mark on our heart remains forever.
Lanna Britt was a national news producer in Washington DC for nearly a decade covering politics, breaking news and current events. She now lives with her husband and three children in Richmond VA. She has two sweet babies she’ll meet again in heaven.