Self-Care Essentials While Grieving the Death of a Pet

Contributed by Melissa Kauffman


Grief can affect you in unexpected ways; while you may think you are okay one day, grief can feel overwhelming the next. Luckily, there are some self-care essentials that you can utilize to help keep yourself on the road to recovery and make the grieving process less painful.

Of course, everyone goes through grief differently, and even the stages of grief are not considered to be an exact guide for everyone. Still, the simple methods we’ve listed will hopefully help those grieving.

  1. Give yourself time to grieve

One of the best things that you can do when grieving is to take some time off work and just allow yourself to grieve. You may feel like you are handling things okay, but that could be because you have not given yourself time to process all of your loss and grief properly. Once you take the time, you will be able to move through some of the grieving stages and allow yourself to recover faster.

  1. Remember to eat, sleep and exercise

A lot of people look at grief as a solely emotional experience, but it can take a toll on your body as well. When we grieve we often lose the desire to eat, sleep, and exercise. Our bodies can really suffer from this neglect, and that can make it even tougher to recover.

You have to remember to take care of yourself, and this is where it may become necessary to involve a confidant or a partner in your grieving process. Use them to help you stay on track and to ensure that you are taking care of yourself. When you have people who are checking up on you to ensure you are eating, getting time outside and getting enough rest, then you won’t have to suffer as much.

  1. Keep some company

Pup Junkies advise, “While you may want time to yourself to cope with grief, you will also need some companionship. It can be tough to grieve on your own, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have a person close to you all the time. You may just want an animal that you can talk to or that will keep you company.”

When you are dealing with the loss of a pet, it sounds odd, but it may be the best time to adopt a pet. A new furry friend could be just what you need to help you get through the tough times and then to come out the other side with new purpose. Make sure you first have the energy and resources to take care of a new pet, though. Assess your situation and what you think you can handle before you adopt a pet, but it has certainly been able to help many pet parents through the grieving process.

  1. You tell yourself how you should feel

One mistake people make when grieving is that they let other people tell them how to feel. Unfortunately, you may hear hurtful phrases like, “It was just a pet, you’ll be fine.”  While this might be well intentioned, it can add to the pain. You should decide for yourself how important your pet was to you, how much time you need to grieve and how to move on from the loss. Don’t let anyone else dictate the way that you feel. Only you can do that truthfully.

  1. Develop a routine

One of the ways we can help ourselves when we are grieving is to get into a schedule each day. This gives us something to look forward to and a motivation to get out of bed and start doing things. Your routine doesn’t have to be complicated or intensive at first. It can be as simple as having your meals, feeding pets and doing a little exercise. But if you schedule time each day for  something you know you ought to be doing, that can help you to establish a sense of normalcy. It can help you get back to where you need to be emotionally.


Self-care is essential if you are going to move through the grief process. You have to take care of yourself, because it is the survivors that suffer the most from a death. Realize that you are suffering, that you should do something about it and that you can do something about it. Take our advice to heart and apply it in your life. Even if you don’t add a dog to your family full time and just want to foster one or even if you only make up a limited routine, you can benefit. You might be amazed at how these simple self-care changes can improve your life.