Moving Through the 7 Stages of Grief after Losing Your Pet

Moving Through the 7 Stages of Grief after Losing Your Pet

Losing a pet can be the hardest goodbye you’ve ever had to say. Their furry paws can bury themselves deep into the recesses of your heart, leaving tiny paw prints in their wake. 

It is not easy to go through, but remember the pain you feel now will NOT always be there. The memories of their innocent love, sloppy wet kisses, and snuggles will always reside in your heart. Little by little you will let go of the loss, but never the love.

There’s a saying that when a heart breaks, it cracks to allow golden love to shine through onto others. Do you see the value in going through this? It may not feel like it now, but grief is an honor. It is an honor to feel that much, to have loved that much. It teaches you compassion, gratitude, resilience, and the importance of continuing to open up to love and truly living.

If you’re wondering how to deal with grief, know that there are 7 stages of grief you go through. This turbulent tsunami we call emotional grief is normal, perfectly natural, and needs to be felt to heal. Give yourself space to feel your emotions as you go through all the stages of grief to heal, without shame. There is no timeline. There is no deadline. Feel your grief, find the value in your grief and choose to allow your light to shine through all the cracks and holes of your heart, lighting up yourself and others around you.

Stage 1: Shock/denial

Shock and denial are unavoidable feelings in nearly every situation, even if you could foresee it happening. There is going to be this unwillingness to accept a loss at some level. This shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. It may last for weeks or days. This is a beginning, a step in the right direction where your brain just begins to try to process what has happened.

EMOTIONS DURING THIS STAGE INCLUDE:

  • Confusion
  • Discomfort
  • Sadness
  • Emptiness

Stage 2: Pain/Guilt

As the shock wears off, feelings of incredible desperation/suffering might take place. It is human nature to want to avoid pain. When we try to stifle our feelings, they come on that much stronger when something triggers them. Know that you can handle this. We only learn about our capacity to handle things by moving through them.

COMMON THOUGHTS DURING THIS STAGE:

  • If only
  • I could have
  • I should have done this

Allow yourself to self-doubt. But know that you did your best with the resources and knowledge you had at that moment. If you feel you didn’t do your best, know that every shortcoming is an opportunity for growth and forgive yourself. During this stage, it’s common to be very hard on yourself. But if you can, try to have a little more compassion for yourself.

Stage 3: Anger/Bargaining

Guilt may then give way to anger. Maybe you lash out and place unwarranted blame/resentment for death on someone else. Or maybe you lash out in anger at a close loved one over nothing. Feel what you feel, but be aware that you can cause permanent damage to your relationships. If you have unjustly hurt someone in your rage, you can always talk to them and apologize. It never hurts to explain what you are going through.

COMMON QUESTIONS AT THIS STAGE:

  • Why me?
  • Bargains with a higher power – I will never drink again if you bring her back

 Try healthy outlets like exercising, strenuous activities like chopping wood, screaming into a pillow, or crying. Research shows that healthily dealing with grief leads to recovery. Depending on how you feel, it might be time to look into grief counseling. If you find yourself “stuck” or using alcohol or drugs as an emotional crutch for months or more, seek professional support. 

You have to ask for help to receive, and you are incredibly deserving of all the help you need. Accept that you want to heal. Accept the fact that you CAN heal. Then, reach out for help.

If you're struggling with depression or anxiety, and need to speak to someone now, visit Lifeline.

Stage 4: Depression, loneliness, and reflection.

This is a long period of sadness where the true magnitude of what happened hits you. It might even happen when friends think it is about time you feel better. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. You may discover that encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost loved one, and focus on memories of the past. But at the same time, in realizing the situation, you also realize “I am still here” and “I am okay.” These will help you to reflect deeply and process emotion.

EXAMPLES OF EMOTIONS DURING THIS STAGE OF GRIEF:

  • Depression
  • Heavy/Crushed
  • Frustrated/Anxiety
  • Reflection/purpose

Stage 5: Upward Turn

Humans innately crave touch, connection, support, and love. At this stage, you will want to finally engage with your friends and family again. Just do not be too disheartened if you slip backward and your emotions are overwhelming all over again. It is perfectly normal to move between any of the stages of grief from hour to hour or even minute to minute. Honor your emotions.

EXAMPLES OF EMOTIONS DURING THIS STAGE OF GRIEF:

  • Enlightened
  • Awakened
  • Strengthened

Step 6: Reconstruction

You will gain mental clarity again. You will want to work on practical and financial problems, figuring out how to reconstruct yourself and your life without him/her.

 This stage is about realizing that you cannot change the circumstances, but you can change your behavior and perception. Your “new normal” will look different for every individual and situation. Just take it step-by-step, and do not compare yourself to anyone else’s journey.

EXAMPLES OF EMOTIONS DURING THIS STAGE OF GRIEF:

  • Inspired
  • Determined
  • Revitalized

Stage 7: Acceptance and Hope

This is where you learn to be grateful for what was, but accept that is not your current reality. Nothing stays the same, and that is okay because change and endings are a part of the cycle of life. Remember, this acceptance does not mean instant happiness, but you will start to look forward and plan things for your future. In time, you will be excited for good times to come and find joy in life again. 

EXAMPLES OF EMOTIONS DURING THIS STAGE OF GRIEF:

  • Hopeful
  • Comforted
  • Peaceful/Secure

Now everyone experiences grief or loss in their own way – maybe that means you experience all these steps, some, or none of these steps/emotions. However you decide to honor grief and your lost pet is up to you.

Do not forget that part of the process of coping with grief and loss involves remembering and memorializing your lost pet. Lucky for us, there are many ways to do that.

A sweet, practical way to remember your beloved furry friend is through a pet urn like this one, which reads, “Heaven sent my own special angel to love and it was covered with fur.”


You can remember the good times by putting a happy photograph in this pet frame that reads, “You were my favorite hello and my hardest goodbye.”


If you’re having a particularly hard time. Try hanging up something positive that you will see daily. Take this plaque, for instance, it reminds you that you always have loving memories in your heart. It reads, “When tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart. For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.”

We know how painful losing a loved one is. Coping with grief is hard and that is why we hope to be a part of your healing process with the various customizable memorial products we offer.

If you didn’t see something that fits your needs, we offer a lot of other products, including: picture framespet urnscandle holderswall plaqueswall crossesdecorative throws, and more.

Hopefully, you can find something to ease the grief. Always remember, the pain won’t last forever, but the loving memories will.

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