Grief and Coping With The Loss Of Your Fur Friend

Updated: Jan 25

Grief is the word that immediately comes to mind when confronted with the passing of a Woody’s Place resident. I would imagine it’s the same for you if you’ve experienced the loss of a beloved fur friend.

But believe it or not, the feelings associated with grief may be far-fetched for some when it comes to the passing of a dog. In fact, some don't feel anything at all except for the relief of one less responsibility to deal with, and in my mind, I imagine that those people are the people who would say to someone who just lost their dog….”What’s the big deal? It’s just a dog. Just go get another.” I cringe just writing that.

Like a doctor who lakes empathy, some don’t get grieving over the passing of a beloved fur friend. To that I say, do yourself a favor, and don’t listen to those people. But rather, feel the way you need to feel when your fur friend passes, and take as much time as you need. Grief is a personal experience with no rules or limits, so, however you grieve or however long you grieve, is okay. I feel grief, lots of grief when any of the Woody’s Place residents pass away. I cry till my head hurts. I can’t talk with anyone for a while, eat, or even remember to drink water. I just want to curl up in a ball on the floor with the other dogs and curse the universe for taking away something that meant so much to me. Admittedly, that’s a pretty ugly picture. And it’s only compounded if I have to make the decision to have a Woody’s Place resident euthanized. Then I’m just downright inconsolable for some time, even though I know it’s the best possible outcome for the resident. The truth is. I can’t be an “ice princess,” like others I’ve witnessed, and I don’t want to be. I have feelings. Real feelings that need to be expressed so I can move on and help other senior German Shepherds in need. Having to euthanize a Woody’s Place resident dog is classic anticipatory grief. It’s “the knowing” grief is coming and there is no way around it. It’s the worst part of sanctuary life and, in my experience, it's something you can’t prepare for, try as you might.

Then there’s grief over a tragic death. As if anticipatory grief wasn't bad enough, tragic death can cause intense grief because it comes on so suddenly. We have experienced this with our resident cats here at the sanctuary. One of my cats was only about two years old when I found him dead in our driveway. I don’t know if he was poisoned or what, but I was shocked to find him out of the blue, dead. He has unexpectedly ripped away