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Pet Caregiver Support Blog…

Pet Loss, Grief, and the Holidays

A guide to coping with grief during the Holiday Season

By Kathryn Jennings, CPFE, CPLP

The upcoming holidays traditionally focus on celebrating with family, friends and loved ones from near and far.  However, for those pet parents who have suffered the loss of a cherished pet or those anticipating a pet loss, the holidays can intensify grief.

Pet Loss Hurts, Especially During the Holiday Season


The holidays are often difficult for people handling a pet loss.

The overwhelming thought of this being your last holidays with your beloved pet or the lack of the physical presence of your beloved pet—bereavement—can be devastating for many pet parents.  The relationship with a beloved pet is significant; the pain of grief associated with anticipating a loss and certainly after a loss can be quite difficult for pet parents during holiday festivities.

Many in your family or social circle may want to mimize your grief. They may tell you it’s time for you to move on and be happy again.

There is no need to think of your grief as not acceptable. It is normal and to be expected. Something as simple as not being able to purchase a gift for the pet we’ve lost or opening a decoration box only to find a your pet’s stocking can bring about mourning and/or a grief burst.

It’s Not “Just a Pet” You’ve Lost

If you are having trouble enjoying the holiday’s due to a pet loss, keep the following in mind.

  • First, give yourself empathy. Your loss matters and your pain is deep.  Your world has changed even if the rest of the world hasn’t.
  • It’s important to give yourself the time and space needed to heal in your own way. Grief has no timetable. Allowing time for self-care is of the upmost importance at this time.  Taking a long hot bath or walking in the park, writing in a journal, creating a memorial for your pet, or volunteering in your community are all ways to take a break from your grief.

It’s OK to feel angry or sad during the holiday season when you’re grieving a pet loss.

  •  It’s OK to feel angry or sad with all the festivities around you.  You are grieving.  You don’t have cover up your grief. Pretending our feelings don’t matter isn’t the solution. If you’re not up to socializing, you shouldn’t be expected to.  It’s ok to say “no.”
  • Holiday traditions can bring the most feelings of loss. Hanging stockings, family get-togethers and the like can trigger significant feelings about your loss. Think about ways you can integrate your pet’s memory into new rituals. Perhaps lighting a candle, or saying a few words with loved ones before a family meal may bring comfort.
  • It’s important to take into account the mixed emotions you may experience at this time.  You may be counting your blessings and reflecting upon the many gifts you received from your beloved pet on earth—and experiencing the pain of grief at the same time. It’s natural to feel intense sorrow and experience the joy of the season in tandem. Feeling conflicted at this time is to be expected.

We Support Pet Parents Who Mourn

The holidays can intensify loneliness and sadness. You might experience “griefbursts” when you thought your grief was behind you.

Those who understand and empathize with pet loss are here to help!

Reach out for support from those who not just sympathize but truly empathize with your loss. Find people who understand what you’re going through. This will give you the opportunity to mourn your loss and continue on your path to healing.

Grief is the hardest work we’ll ever do. It’s easier when another lends a hand.  When we feel understood, when our pain is acknowledged, we feel less devastated and more supported.

You don’t have to grieve all alone.

Day By Day Pet Caregiver Support, a 501 c 3 non-profit, offers compassionate support to caregivers through the grief that comes before during and after the loss of a beloved pet. To reach out to us this holiday season, you can call your Day By Day support team 24/7 at 484-453-8210 or email us.




Copyright 2016

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