What to Do in the Immediate Aftermath of Pet Loss

When your pet passes away, it will impact you, in some ways, for the rest of your life. However, those first few hours and days after experiencing pet loss are often the hardest. In those moments, the pain is still fresh and raw, and it can feel like the grief will be impossible to live through. 

While the pain of losing a pet will never fully go away, it will get easier with time. Until that happens, here are a few things you can do to help you cope in the immediate aftermath of your pet’s death.

Let Out Your Emotions

Too often, we try to push through emotional pain in favor of being “strong.” But eventually, those feelings will make their way to the surface in one way or another. Instead, allow yourself to feel your emotions without holding them back. 

If you feel like crying all day, that’s perfectly fine. If you’d prefer to think about funny memories of your pet, that’s ok too. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve your pet. 

Don’t Forget to Eat Something

In the immediate aftermath of your pet’s death, you may not feel hungry but don’t forget to take care of yourself in the following days. Even if you don’t have much of an appetite, keep yourself nourished so you don’t ultimately feel worse later. 

Keep in mind that grieving takes more energy than you think, and you’ll need fuel to help you get through it. Whether you eat something quick and easy or you choose your favorite comfort food, taking care of your health is key. 

Allow Yourself to Be Distracted

During those first few days of grief, you might feel guilty if you’re not actively thinking about your pet. However, it’s normal and even healthy to allow yourself to be distracted at times. 

You might choose to distract yourself with a favorite movie or TV show, take care of that one item that’s been on your to-do list, or get together with loved ones for a few hours. A distraction won’t take away from your grief, but it can help remind you that grief isn’t your whole life. 

Avoid Making Permanent Decisions

In the days after euthanizing your pet, try to remember that the way you feel in the moment probably won’t last forever. That’s why it’s important not to make any rash decisions that you can’t undo. 

For example, you might not immediately think of keeping your pet’s ashes in an urn and think you’d prefer to scatter them instead. That’s not a decision that can be undone, so it’s better to keep the ashes aside until you have time to think about your choice more clearly.

Along those same lines, you might be tempted to throw out your pet’s favorite toys because they’re too hard to look at. Instead of making that permanent decision now, put the toys away and allow yourself time to process your emotions so you can make decisions later. 

Focus on Things That Bring You Joy

When you’re grieving, it’s important to reflect on the other areas of your life that bring you happiness. Even something as simple as writing a daily gratitude list can help you focus on the good parts of your life when it feels like your world is falling apart. 

Remember That Grief After Pet Loss Isn’t Linear

In those first few days after losing your pet, remember that while it will get easier over time, grief isn’t always predictable and it’s definitely not linear. There will be days when you feel more like your old self and then out of nowhere, you will feel rocked by sadness. All of it is normal, but it’s never easy. 

Whether it’s been days or years since your pet died, we are here to offer bereavement support when you need it.