top of page

Five Reasons To Validate Grieving The Loss Of A Pet

Young boy hugging his dog on a couch. Marble Wellness is a counseling practice in St. Louis, MO 63011 that specializes in grief and loss.

Death is always painful; losing someone you love is one of the most intense kinds of grief we will experience. The same is true of losing a pet; they are our friends, our companions, and sometimes they literally save our lives. But when someone loses a pet, a lot of people don’t take that grief seriously. They tell them that it was just an animal, and they shouldn’t be that sad.

Statements like this give the client what’s called disenfranchised grief. This means that they get convinced, by both society and themselves, that their grief is less valid because they didn’t lose a person. People act like getting over a pet is easier, even though many of us love our pets as much as, if not more than, some of our relatives.

Invalidating our grief has some bad long-term consequences, because emotions don’t just stop when we don’t acknowledge them. They just hang around doing CrossFit in our brains until we finally can’t ignore them anymore. Then they knock us over. So it’s important that we allow ourselves to process and grieve.

It doesn’t matter if it was a relative or a hamster, if you were connected with them and loved them, then your grief is entirely real and entirely valid. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re wrong.

Our St. Louis therapists outline five reasons why the grief you’re feeling over your pet is valid:

1. Your Pet Is Part Of Your Day:

It’s always painful to lose something that’s such a big part of your life. You see your pet every morning. You feed them every day. You walk them, scoop their litter boxes, find ways to take care of them while you’re on vacation. They consume a lot of our thoughts, and that’s good. But it makes losing them really hard.

If you come home every day and get greeted by your dog, not receiving that greeting is going to hurt. If you and your bird played little games together in the mornings while you fed them, you’re going to miss that time.

You’re not just missing an animal; you’re missing a dozen little moments and routines that happened because your pet was a constant presence in your life.

2. Pets Give Unconditional Love:

Who else on this earth loves us no matter what? We love our relatives, but we disagree with them sometimes. We may have ended friendships for various reasons. But our relationships with pets are steady and they never see fault in us.

Even when we get upset at them, they always forgive us and return to loving us. Where else do any of us find that sort of love in our daily lives? There is a creature that loves you simply

because you’re their human, and that’s a magical thing. Of course we miss it when it’s gone. Losing that love and security leaves a huge hole in its absence.

A man hugging his dog with mountains in the background. The loss of a pet can lead to intense grief and the therapists at Marble Wellness in STL can support you.

3. Pets Provide Constant Support:

Pets perform a lot of little duties around our homes. Dogs provide playmates and alarm systems that make us feel safe. Cats sometimes keep our houses free of critters if they feel so inclined. Birds introduce song into the home.

People with physical and emotional disabilities use animals to accomplish daily living tasks. We don’t just love our pets based on their utility, but it still factors into our grief.

If your pet played a role in your house and isn’t doing that anymore, it’s going to make their absence that much more noticeable. No one will bark when someone comes to the door. Most of us miss the love and cuddles more than the work our pets do, but it’s still a part of it and still a very big absence that causes us pain.

4. Pets Are Companions:

Humans aren’t the only ones who can be part of our support system. Especially for people who don’t have children or who don’t have nearby family or friends, their pets may be the only real companionship they have on a daily basis.

It doesn’t matter if your companion has 2, 4, or 6 legs, if you’ve been through life together, you’re going to miss them. Why wouldn’t it be okay to deeply grieve that?

5. Pets Give Us Purpose:

A pet needs you. You have to feed it, walk it, clean up its messes, and take care of it when it’s sick. For many, their pets provide the structure for their day. If you are going through a hard time and don’t have enough energy to function, usually taking care of a pet is one of the few things that makes it possible to get out of bed, if only to make sure your furry friend doesn’t starve.

The purpose our pets give us is so stabilizing. We rely on it to provide routine and structure and to feel needed. You might feel adrift in your life for quite a while after losing that. No one should shame you about it.

Our pets are family; they give us love and purpose. They support us and they care for us. And in return we do the same for them. So let yourself grieve as much as you need.

Species doesn’t matter when we lose a loved one. Your grief is no less valid because you’re grieving your pet. Mourn your furry friend and honor their memory. You both deserve it.

A man holds his gray cat. If you've lost a pet in Missouri or Illinois, grief therapy at Marble Wellness can help you.

If you’re dealing with the loss of a pet, it’s okay to consider therapy. Our team of therapists at Marble Wellness understand grief. We want to sit with you, validate your pain, and help you navigate your healing process at your own pace.

If you want someone to walk alongside you through your grief journey, please reach out to Marble Wellness and we will find a therapist for you. Always remember that your grief is valid, and so is your need for support. And however you grieve, know that your pet was glad to be a part of your life.

Start Therapy for Mental Health in St. Louis

If you live in St. Louis and are ready to improve your mental health, we are here to help.

Contact Us!

Phone: 636.234.3052


Contact: Fill out our form!

Request an Appointment

Marble Wellness is a therapy practice located in St. Louis, MO. Marble Wellness sees clients in person, virtually and offers park therapy.