Seeking Grief Counseling when Anticipating or Experiencing the Loss of a Pet

One might feel it is an overreaction to participate in therapy when they have lost a beloved pet. For various reasons, this is not the case.

The grief resulting from the death of a pet is real and valid. One in this situation might feel invalidated as it may be dismissed by those without pets or those not as close with their pets. Counseling may be beneficial due to this lack of understanding. If therapy is sought, it would be important that a therapist who sees this loss as significant be found. An empathic and compassionate counselor will listen without judgment.

Pets (most often cats and dogs) are therapeutic and with the loss of them, owners can also lose the comfort once obtained from the animals. Pet loss could be traumatic (if caused by an accident or prolonged illness). Counseling can help when one is contemplating the decision to put a pet down, which can be another difficult factor.

Like with the loss of our human loved ones, grief over one’s pets may occur in stages. There is no right way to mourn nor is there a time line or limit. It is very personal and individualized process. What is important is to practice self-care, which for some includes counseling. It is also beneficial to not deny or stuff one’s feelings. Therapy can help one express and sort out the various feelings associated with grief.

If you have additional questions or think you may want to begin the counseling process, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at 605-610-9228.

Rita Hansen is a licensed professional counselor with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling. She can be reached by calling (605) 610-9228.