Pet Loss Support
Dealing with the loss of a special companion is never easy. There is a normal grieving process that everyone must go through, although we all experience and deal with grief in different ways. People are often surprised at how intense the grief can be after the loss of a pet, and it’s often made worse by not having a support system that allows you to feel the depth of this loss.
We are very fortunate that there are many resources that you may find helpful in the San Diego Area. As pet lovers ourselves, we encourage you to utilize these amazing people and programs who can help you and your family through this challenging transition.
Prior to your pet’s passing, you may be dealing with “Anticipatory Grief.”
Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement: Add your own memorial and connect with others in their chat room.
Rainbow Bridge: Access articles on grief, learn how to memorialize your pet, and join their Monday night candle ceremony.
Two Hearts Pet Loss Center: Access a Pet Loss Care Journal, learn how to plan ahead for loss, join live sessions every Monday via Facebook with a pet-loving and grieving community, and access a free Bucket List for your Pet Companion. @twoheartspetlosscenter on Instagram has easily-accessible tips and tributes.
San Diego Humane Society and SPCA
Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center: Join quarterly memorial service led by Jeanne E. Katoaka, ordained Animal Chaplain. Sending in a photo ahead of time and bringing a candle is encouraged.
Pet Loss Support Group of California: Online Zoom meeting based in Irvine, RSVP is required. Contact: Andrea Keith, LMFT, CEAP: email@example.com, 949-650-2442
Rancho Coastal Humane Society: offers Grief Support and Community for Pet Loss and 20 minute phone sessions with a counselor
Pet Cloud: offers a free online support group every Sunday.
Pet Loss Therapists
Pet Loss Counseling, Center for Effective Living: Meg Kaufman is a marriage, family, and child counselor in private practice. Her specialties include bereavement counseling, especially for animal loss. She works with children, adolescents and adults. Contact: Meg Kaufman, MFCC, 858-566-3333, 9815 Carroll Canyon Rd., San Diego, CA 92131
Melonie Gale MA, LMHC, NCC: With over 30 years Counseling experience, Melonie Gale works interactively and collaboratively within a safe supportive environment to help you effect change in your life. Contact: 858-429-8999
Coping With Grief and Loss
- Blessing the Bridge by Rita M. Reynolds
- Cold Noses At The Pearly Gates by Gary Kurz
- Coping With Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Allen
- Going Home–Finding Peace When a Pets Die by Jon Katz
- Repairing the Heartbreak of Pet Loss Grief by C. Jeffrey
- Goodbye, Dear Friend: Coming to Terms With The Death of a Pet by Virginia Ironside
- Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom For Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski
- How to Roar: Pet Loss and Grief Recovery Guide by Robin Jean Brown
- Just One More Day by Geoffrey Bain
- Pet Loss: A Spiritual Guide by Julia Harris
- I Remember You: A Grief Journal by Laynee Gilbert
- And I Love You Still: A Thoughtful Guide and Remembrance Journal For Healing the Loss of a Pet by Julianne Corbin
Memorializing Your Pet
- Gently Into The Night: A Guide to Creating Your Pet’s Memorial Service by Barbara Rosenfield Douglas
- Angel Pawprints: Reflections on Loving and Losing a Canine Companion–An Anthology of Pet Memorials by Laurel Hunt
- Angel Whiskers: Reflections on Loving and Losing a Feline Companion by Laurel Hunt
Helping Children Cope With the Loss of a Pet
- Ocho Loved Flowers by Anne Fontaine
- Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
- Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
- Bill at Rainbow Bridge by Dan Carrison
- Dear Brave Friend by Leigh Ann Gerk
- My Pet Memory Book: To Help A Child Through The Loss Of Their Pet by S. Wallace
- When A Pet Dies by Fred Rogers
- When Is Buddy Coming Home: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Your Child With The Loss of a Pet by Gary Kurz
- Healing A Child’s Pet Loss Grief: A Guide for Parents by Wendy Van de Poll
Children and Grief
How do I talk to my child about death or the end of life stage?
Adults may assume that a child does not understand loss or believe that we should shelter children from death, be tempted to explain the death of a pet in vague ways or avoid the topic all together. Research shows this is not the best approach for children, often causing anxiety and confusion. Children need clarity.
The end of life stage or death of a beloved pet and how it is handled will remain with a child throughout his or her life. Children do experience grief differently than adults, but going through the process of loss and grieving with loving family can ease the process. Children often have a strong attachment or connection to a pet. These pets may be a special playmate and to understand the loss they need a parent’s guidance and support.
Children need to understand that it is ok to mourn and remember a pet. A child’s reaction is more natural, varied and curious. Involving the child in the rituals surrounding grief, memorializing the pet, and working through their sadness help children learn lifelong coping mechanisms.
Many of the resources listed in our Pet Loss Support Handout list websites and organizations that also work with children, should your child be struggling with the passing of a pet.