Pet Loss & Grief Support: Free Online Resources
Everyone experiences grief differently, but one thing we all have in common? It helps when someone’s there: to listen, to comfort, and to help bear the weight of the loss.
Whether you’re going through the decline of an aging pet or coping with a recent loss, it’s natural to want to stay close to the humans and non-humans you love most. But even surrounded by friends and family, the loss of your animal best friend can still be a lonely and overwhelming time, and you may be looking for additional places to turn for support.
You don’t have to face this alone.
Confronting the loss of a pet can be an incredibly difficult emotional process, and connecting with a professional or other people who can relate can be a vital source of comfort during a challenging time. Seeking support can also offer you much-needed guidance as you learn to manage your grief and navigate life after loss. Below you’ll find a list of free pet loss resources and communities that can help.
Find in-person and/or virtual support.
- Join a support group. Whether you meet face-to-face or virtually, sharing space with a group of people who are experiencing the same things as you can be an important means of release and emotional support. Not only that, but helping others navigate their grief can make you feel better, too. If you’re not sure how to find one, consult an online directory by state or ask your local Humane Society.
- Chat with a grief counselor. Many mental health professionals specialize in helping people move through loss, and talking to someone who is trained specifically in pet loss and bereavement can offer added layers of tailored support. The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement offers a free online chat room where you can attend regularly scheduled support sessions with trained pet loss specialists.
- Talk to a professional by phone. Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone and call someone. The Pet Compassion Careline provides 24/7 grief support with trained professional counselors, and is available by calling 1 (855) 245–8214. Many veterinary schools and universities also offer free pet loss support hotlines: you can find an extensive list here.
Join an online community.
There are hundreds of online resources, communities, and support groups where you can connect with others who know what you’re going through and offer a virtual shoulder to lean on. Here are three places to look:
- Follow an Instagram grief support community led by creators like @petlosspsychologist, @petlosscommunity, @lossesbecomegains and @lossunleashed, or search common hashtags like #PetLossSupport to find advice and inspiration. Whether you choose to post about your own story or not, there’s comfort in these daily virtual reminders that you are not alone.
- Join a Facebook Group dedicated to pet loss and grief support like The Rainbow Bridge or PVC (among many others) where you can connect with thousands of people mourning pets and read their first-hand stories of grief and recovery.
- Engage in a digital discussion forum like r/petloss or Rainbow’s Bridge to read other pet owners’ personal stories and perhaps even share your own, when you’re ready.
Remember, your feelings are valid.
Many people try to push down or invalidate their own feelings of grief at the loss of a pet, but denying your emotions won’t make you feel better, as therapist Molly Palmer explains in her recent Coda article, “Pet Loss Grief is Valid.”
Pets are family, and it’s not silly or overblown to feel devastated, depressed, or angry when faced with their absence. In fact, as you connect with other people going through pet loss and hear their stories, you’ll find it’s common to experience these and a whole host of other emotions. And it can be both comforting and validating to know that whatever you’re feeling, other pet owners have been there before.
Pet loss is hard, but you don’t have to go through it alone.
Disclaimer: This resource guide is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional mental health or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does it cover all issues related to pet loss, grief, and mental health. If you believe you or another individual is experiencing a mental health crisis, seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider immediately.