Pet Loss Articles

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Coping With The Loss Of Your Pet

After losing a pet, many people take great comfort in connecting with others who are going through the same experience. Often, in our own circle of friends, family and co-workers, we are unable to find the emotional support we need as we work our way through the grief of losing our pet.

More and more people seem to turn to the internet, and with the help of complete strangers they are able to navigate through the wide range of emotions that go hand in hand with loving, and losing a cherished pet.

Facebook has many pages dedicated to pet loss. People will often post a photo and message and receive words of comfort from someone who may even be in a different country.

There are pet loss newsgroups and forums. People can post questions, talk about what they are feeling, or even look back on older posts and perhaps find comfort in reading a message or answer someone had previously posted.

There are tribute websites where you can create a wonderful tribute to your beloved pet and share it with others.

There are candle lighting ceremonies, Pinterest groups, and even pet bereavement counsellors who specialize in helping people who are grieving the loss of a pet.

Some people find comfort comes by way of rescuing a pet. They may choose to donate money in memory of their pet in hopes that their loss will at least help save another pet. Still others choose to adopt a pet and find this to be extremely comforting and rewarding. Having a new pet enjoy eating from their pet's bowl, sleeping in their pet's bed and playing with their toys can be a great source of comfort. However, adopting a pet while your emotions are still raw from your loss is not always the wisest move. A pet is a lifetime commitment and making a rash decision to adopt a pet is not fair to you or to the pet you adopt. Instead, I recommend volunteering at a shelter or rescue group. This way you can still enjoy being with a pet, but not have to make a commitment until you are ready. Taking time to heal is always recommended.

There is no right way or wrong way to grieve. No one can give you an exact timeframe as to how long you should grieve for. However, it is important that your grieving is productive; that it is helping you heal and move forward. Whatever method you choose to help you deal with your loss, make sure it is working for you.

At Just Over The Rainbow Bridge, we help people create memorials for their pets that can be shared with family and friends. We feel it is important to celebrate the life of a cherished pet. Please visit our website, take a guided tour, and let us help you create a memorial that pays tribute to your beloved friend.

Pet Loss - Facing The Holidays

The coming and going of seasonal holidays is a given. We no sooner close the door on one holiday when the next one is on the porch ringing our doorbell. For those who have lost a beloved pet, these holidays can be the source of a rollercoaster of emotions.

Each holiday is a reminder of what we've lost; and there are so many reminders. The Halloween costumes we come across as we pull out last year's holiday decorations. The Christmas stocking we lovingly embroidered with our beloved pet's name. The cute photographs from holidays past.

As each holiday drawers nearer, memories come flooding back. The memories are amazingly clear. They bring tears to our eyes but as we begin to heal, they also bring a smile to our face. And with that smile, we know we have taken that first step towards healing.

As we heal, our photographs are no longer just a source of grief. Instead, we can look at them and smile at the silly expression on his face as he opened his Christmas presents. We instantly have a vivid flashback to the many memories that go hand in hand with that photo. We remember the outfit we carefully selected for him to wear. We can remember the exact moment we snapped the photo. We shock ourselves by being able to instantly recall the comments of our family and friends. Uncle Fred saying how adorable he looked. The smile on Aunt Sally's face as she commented that she feels the expression on his face is because he's so embarrassed.

As each holiday ends and we managed to emotionally work our way through it, we are once again faced with yet other pet loss reminders. After each holiday there are the never ending photographs of pets in costumes posted all over the internet. And let's not forget the never ending pet videos that get posted following each holiday. Do we look at them and cry? Or do we look at them and appreciate them for what they are? Do you avoid looking at those specific photographs that show your beloved pet's breed dressed in costume? Or do you enjoy seeing photographs of pets in costumes even though they very much look like your pet did?

For many, after losing a pet, there seems to be one holiday that is more difficult to get through than the others. It could be Christmas, Halloween or even the 4th of July. But as we begin to heal, that very same holiday will be the one that that is filled with wonderful memories that will one day make you smile.

Do you have a special holiday photo or story about your pet that you would like to share with us? Please feel free to email them to me at

A Dog In Mourning

When Jake died, Couper became a dog in mourning. He took to his bed.  While deeply mourning the loss myself, I was trying to help him cope with his loss.  Knowing in advance what to expect, can enable you to help your surviving pet. It is okay for them to mourn. Know that it is very likely that your surviving pet will mourn the loss. Understand that he too is grieving. Let him go through the process and let him know it's okay for him to grieve. Grieving and healing is a process, and just like people, and each pet will move through it at their own pace.


Your pet may exhibit behaviors you don't understand. Immediately following Jake's death, Couper would start taking Jake's toys and putting them in his own bed. This was usually a ritual he reserved for one purpose; to annoy Jake.

He would also constantly alternate beds; switching every few minutes between his bed and Jake's. Why was he exhibiting these behaviors? Research showed that what he was doing was trying to call Jake to come to him. He remembered things he has done in the past that caused his buddy to come to him. So he constantly repeated these rituals thinking that if I steal Jake's toys, or sleep in his bed, Jake has always shown up to put me in my place and will therefore show up again.

Couper exhibited a number of these behaviors and we let him go through the process feeling it was necessary for him to understand that Jake was not coming back.  

We briefly tried removing Jake's favorite things but it only made the situation worse and it is not something recommended.  Having the other pet's toys around may help him understand the situation and provide comfort.. 

Helping Others to Help Your Pet

Every so often you come across people who seem to be completely clueless. I remember someone saying to Couper in a very excited voice "where's Jake"? His reaction was to go running around trying to find him. I caught up with him, hugged and reminded him that Jake was gone. Did he understand my words? Likely not, but he understood my sad tone.

How To Help The Surviving Pet Move Forward

At first, we just let Couper grieve. Afterall, we were feeling the same way. We wanted to wallow in our sorrow, wrap it tightly around us and just shut everything else out.

After a week of Couper not getting any closer to moving forward, we started to get involved in trying to help him in different way. We set up playdates, both with people he liked and with dogs he enjoyed. He would be thrilled while they were here but the minute they left he was back in bed.

Pets Do Mourn. Proof

It was now 12 days after Jake's death and although neither my husband nor myself felt like it, it was time to make our annual trip to Florida for the winter. We both felt that this was either going to be a great thing for Couper or a disastrous move.

Couper normally would spend most of the day looking out the car window during our travel. This time was different. He barely moved. It was heartbreaking to watch.

However, each night as we got into the hotel, Couper became his old self. Happy, funny, and full of personality. Yet as we would head back into the car for the next leg of the journey, Couper's depression returned. We soon realized that every place that carried Jake's scent, caused depression. The hotel rooms did not have any of Jake's scent, and this gave Couper a break from his depression. 

The day had arrived and we drove up the driveway to our place in Florida. Couper was beyond excited. We opened the car dog and he ripped his seatbelt anxious to get out, jumped out of the car and made a mad dash into the house. He ran into every room. We know he was looking for Jake. I imagine he was thinking "Hey, Jake's not really gone, he's waiting for me here!" The excitement as he searched every corner of every room was heartbreaking to watch. His depression set in again immediately following the discovery that Jake wasn't in Florida either.

We decided to take him over to visit his all time favorite pal in Florida; a funny pit bull mix whom Couper adored. We did this day after day; making sure each day was filled with old friends for him to meet as well as many new friends.

Fortunately this worked. I'm sure he still has the odd sad day; but his funny, easy going personality has finally returned. Jake was the only pack Couper ever knew. It was a difficult transition for him to realize he no longer has a pack.

Let your surviving pet know it's okay to mourn but also they need your guidance to move them towards a healthy recovery.


Rainbow Bridge; Promises To Our Pets

If we're lucky, we get to share many wonderful years together. Yet no matter how many years we have, it never seems enough. They seem to fly by and all too soon we find ourselves researching subjects we aren't ready to learn about: pet loss, grieving, euthanasia, cremation and rainbow bridge.

Long before my dogs started to age, I made a list of promises. I called it rainbow bridge - my final gift.

I promise to love you enough to keep you happy, healthy and strong.

I promise to carry health insurance so we are never faced with having to make decisions based on finances instead of what's best for you.

When you tell me it's time for you to go, I promise to set my own emotional needs aside and will love you enough to honor your needs.  When the time came, this was the most difficult promise to keep. 

When the time comes, I promise I will not leave you alone until after you taken your last breath. I will keep you close to me and my love is the last thing you will feel. My voice will be the last thing that you hear. My presence will provide the comfort you need to pass calmly. You will go to rainbow bridge knowing that you were loved, and that I am grateful for the years we had together.  Be there for your pet.  It is not only important for them, for you as well.  Try to remain calm so your pet feels the calmness.  If you are hysterical and crying, your pet will be anxious.  Hold it together and once they are gone, let it all out.  

I spent considerable time trying to understand how my dog would let me know it was time for him to go to rainbow bridge. Some people said it was when the pain of living outweighed the joy of life.

Others said their soul seems ready to leave. Still others said it had to do with a change of habit such as stopping eating, potty accidents, or preferring to spend time alone instead of with his family.

As Jake quickly went downhill, and our vet said it was time to start thinking about what's best for him, I pulled out my list of promises. After fighting the obvious, I knew it was time to let him go. Clearly he was in pain. Yet he loved being with us and would even hobble outside to go potty. I guess he was too proud to have an accident in the house.

I kept waiting for the signal. The signal that so many people had mentioned. Time and time again I heard the same thing "You will know when the time is right. He will tell you. There will be no doubt in your mind."

For days I stared at him and asked him "Jake, is it time?" He would lick my face, wag his tail and I took that to mean "No, I'm not ready." Perhaps he really was telling me he was ready and his licks and tail wags meant thank you for understanding my needs. I will never know.

Trying to plan for your pet's death is very difficult. Use this time to investigate your options. Euthanize at home or at the vet's? Cemetery or cremation? And even plan what you want to say to your pet to help him pass peacefully. I carefully chose the words I knew he understood and those that made him the happiest. I cradled him in my arms and repeated over and over again "Jake, you are such a good boy. Jake I love you. And even sang a silly song that I had made up years ago. A nonsensical song that always made Jake happy.

Having these plans can help make a very difficult time, a little more tolerable. Not easier, just a little more tolerable. The death of a pet is never easy.

Phyllise Kaye is the founder of, a site for people who have lost a beloved pet.

Losing a pet is extremely difficult. Healing from such a loss is just as difficult. The loss of my dog Jake was exceptionally painful and the sadness and grief that followed was much deeper than I ever could have imagined.

If you, or someone you know is suffering the loss of a beloved pet, I would love for you to visit our site and see all that we have to offer.


Mourn My Loss, Celebrate My Life - Advice From Our Pets

Through the tears and sadness, let us not forgot the memories that made us smile

We tell ourselves to move on. But as you are aware, it is easier said than done.

Grieving and sadness is a normal part of healing. We each push through the stages of grief at our own rate. As long as we are moving forward, then we are healing. From time to time we may take a step backwards. This is to be expected.

I remember the day I made a decision: I was going to celebrate the life of Jake. I decided that I was not going to let the day Jake died define who he was. He died one day; but he lived for 11 wonderful years. I was going to focus on the 11 years rather than that one awful day.

Jake left me a legacy. He was the beautiful yellow lab with the silly grin in hundreds of photos. He was the dog who had his very own neighborhood fans who would come up to him on the street just to give him a belly rub. Jake would instantly rollover and enjoy all the attention. And if the neighbor didn’t come out to meet him, he would come to the neighbor. He’d plop himself down on their front lawn, rollover and patiently wait for the neighbor to come outside to give him his bully rub . . . regardless of whether the person was home or not. He was dog who always stood just outside the circle at the dog park . . . waitng patiently for another dog to invite him to join in. 

He was the dog who taught me patience. He was the dog whose fur was wet with my tears as I fought and won my battle with cancer.

Yes, he was so much more than the dog who died on November 27, 2010. He was dog who lived from September 11, 1999 to November 26, 2010. I refuse to let it all come down to that one horrible day. To do so would be unfair to Jake. He deserved much more than that. 

Talk about your pet with family and friends.  He is gone but not forgotten. Don't be afraid to share your memories. Just mentioning him will let everyone know it's okay to talk about your pet and share their own special memories. 

Please don't let the day your pet died become the final chapter in his story. Share his legacy. 


Phyllise Kaye is the founder of, a site created in honor of her dog Jake who went to Rainbow Bridge. The site is designed to create wonderful tributes and to celebrate the life of our pets and all that we shared together. 


I Stood By Your Bed Last Night

I Stood By Your Bed

  I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.

I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
"It's me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times your hands reached out to me.

I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to reassure you that I'm not lying there.

I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said "it's me."

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know that I was standing there.

It's possible for me to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."

You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew ...
In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is almost over... I smile and watch you yawning
and say "goodnight, God bless, I'll see you in the morning."

And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I'll rush across to greet you and we'll stand, side by side.

I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out ... then come home to be with me.

Author unknown

My Pet Died - Processing And Dealing With Your Loss

Losing your pet is very difficult. You feel empty, sad and overwhelmed with grief. Your loss is profound. You may feel some guilt and anger. You know that you are in pain; both emotionally and physically.

You look around your house and it hits you like a ton of bricks. His toys are scattered around the house. Each one is a memory. The ball he played with yesterday still carries his scent. You see some of his hair in the corner. Yesterday it might have annoyed you. Today you pick it up and instead of tossing it away, you hold it close and cherish it.

Some people have the need to immediately put away all of their beloved pets belongings. Leashes, food bowls and beds are all quickly gathered up and gently placed in a closet. Others can't stand the thought of packing up their pet's belongings. Instead, they take great comfort in having them in sight.

After Jake's death I worried about leaving his belongings out. I was concerned that by doing so, it would cause Couper, my surviving dog, to feel worse than he was already feeling. He was mourning the loss of his best friend. Yet rather than being upset with Jake's belongings scattered around the house, he instead took great comfort from them. He would sniff Jake's toys, sleep in his bed and even spend time in Jake's crate. Before Jake's death, Couper never liked the crate. On the other hand, Jake loved it. The door would always be open and he would go inside it and sleep in it for hours during the day. It was like his own little den. Yet after Jake's death, Couper took up the ritual of crawling into the crate and having an afternoon nap.

It's been almost two years since Jake's death. And still to this day I can't even think about throwing away his all-time favorite toy; a worn out deflated basketball. It was his prize possession. He would proudly carry it around in his mouth. It looked quite silly but he absolutely loved it. To this day that roughed up old deflated basketball sits in my garage. It's the first thing I see when I get into my car, and the last thing I see when I return home. It gives me great comfort and I honestly don't think I will ever be able to throw it out.

Don't let someone else decide what you should do immediately following the death of your pet. Grieving is a process. Healing is a process. Neither can be rushed. I have taken great comfort in remembering Jake as he was. I try not to focus on his last day. To do so would be unfair to him and to his memory. Try to remember all the wonderful days you shared together. It will help you heal. There was a time when I would look at another yellow lab and the sadness would take my breath away. I decided this wasn't helping me. Now when I see a yellow labI use that moment to think of Jake and to remember the wonderful years we had together.

Phyllise Kaye is the founder of, a site created in honor of her dog Jake who went to Rainbow Bridge. The site is designed to create wonderful tributes and to celebrate the life of our pets and all that we shared together. ...