Losing a pet is devastating, especially for those of us who treat our animals like our children. It’s been a little over a year since I lost my beagle, Rayme. She was fifteen years old when she passed, so I take great comfort in knowing she had a long, full life. But I still think about her every day. I got Rayme when I was just 21 and in college, so we really did grow up together. She was by my side through times of laughter and sadness in three different states and countless apartments. Rayme was truly my companion in life.
I was reminded of my loss lately when my sister’s dog died at the age of fourteen. Hearing about Odin’s last moments reminded me of sitting on the floor of the exam room as my little girl went quietly to sleep.
Talking with my sister, I realized what a solid support system we had to get through life events like this. Many people do not understand the human animal bond and cannot fathom the intense remorse over the loss of a pet. I thought about people who lose pets who aren’t blessed with a strong support system. Luckily, there are lots of resources available for those grieving over pet loss.
The Anti-Cruelty Society offers a Working through Pet Loss support group. Meetings are guided by a licensed therapist and provide a safe place for pet owners to share and heal their grief. The support group meets on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 6pm-7:30pm at The Anti-Cruelty Society at 169 W. Grand Avenue in Chicago. The schedule is subject to change, so please see the group’s Event Page for updates. There is no charge, but registration is required by contacting Tammie Bouschor at 312-644-8338 ext. 344 or email@example.com.
The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association also sponsors a hotline. Leave a voice-mail at 630-325-1600 and your call will be returned between 7pm-9pm.
Another great resource is this Pet Loss Support Page, which offers listings of cemetaries/crematories and counselors, as well as in-home euthanasia options. (use image to link)
Consider options that help you to move on as you go through the grieving process. A memorial to your lost pet through giving to a local animal charity, a memorial stone or framing a loved picture can help to bring closure. For some, a new pet can bring happiness during a time of sadness. Others, like me, needed to take some time. Now, I think that time has come for me share my heart again. I look forward to welcoming a new dog into my family in the near future!