When you’re the caregiver and companion to a furry friend, your life is enriched with their undying love, faithfulness, and companionship. Pets provide you with unconditional love and emotional support that you sometimes can’t get from others. In turn, you do your best to show them how much they mean to you. These acts of kindness and care create a special bond between you and your pet.
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As such, your pet depends on you as much as you depend on them. Together you develop an understanding of trust between the two of you. You can hope for a long life for your pet but eventually, you’ll have to make life or death decisions about their final moments. As difficult as these decisions may be, there will come a time when you have no choice but to decide to end your pet’s suffering.
Here are some tips below to show you some ways to consider saying your final goodbyes.
How to Say Goodbye to a Pet For The Last Time
There's something special to be said about being able to say goodbye to your pet for the last time. For many, this opportunity never comes especially in the case of the sudden loss of a pet due to accident or injury.
Below are some ways to make saying goodbye a little easier, or to lessen your pain as you prepare to say your final goodbyes.
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1. Give your pet a day to remember
One of the most beautiful ways to honor your pet is to give them a day to remember. You can plan to take your pet to all of their favorite places around town—the dog park, the lake, the town square, or even the Home Depot. Wherever your furry best friend is happiest is where you should plan on taking them. Maybe it’s giving them all the best crunchies that you saved up for good behavior.
Expect this day to be emotionally trying for you as you accept that it will be one of the last times the two of you get to go out together. Try to take things one day at a time so that you’re able to enjoy the moment without thinking too much about what the future holds.
2. Spend time reflecting
Remembering your pet and all the things you used to do together may bring you comfort as you mourn their loss. Give yourself some time to absorb the shock of their death and then gradually allow yourself some time for reflection.
You may remember them fondly when you reflect on all their quirks and personality traits that caused you to fall in love. You may even find yourself smiling remembering the times when they were especially bad and made your life miserable. For those special moments, consider purchasing and installing a pet memorial plaque in your garden as a way to remember them and honor their memory.
3. Plan a burial or cremation
One way of saying your last goodbyes to your pet is to host a burial or cremation service for them. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate and expensive event. You can host a small group of close friends or family, or it can be just for you to honor your beloved pet.
You can discuss this with your vet to see what options are available to you in your area. Different rules have to be followed depending on where you live. Your veterinarian can offer you a wealth of knowledge when it comes to local ordinances and procedures that must be followed.
4. Surround yourself with support
You may experience overwhelming grief after losing your pet that you may need added comfort and support in saying your last goodbyes. There’s nothing shameful about reaching out to your loved ones to say you need them during this very difficult time for you. If you’ve suffered through losing a pet unexpectedly, their death may have hit you especially hard and you may be suffering from shock and disbelief.
When you go through the stages of grief after losing a pet, this initial reaction of shock may keep you from being able to think rationally about where to go from here. You may not be able to register their loss right away and may miss out on the opportunity to say goodbye without someone there to comfort and guide you.
5. Talk to your vet
If you’re unsure how to proceed when it’s time to make a decision on whether to euthanize your pet, talk to your veterinarian to discuss options.
Your vet will be able to guide you on what the appropriate course of treatment for your pet is or when it’s the right time to consider euthanasia. They will also be able to provide guidance on local ordinances for pet burial or cremation.
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6. Pet loss grief support
If you’re finding that it’s difficult for you to deal with your grief, there are support groups that you can join to help cope. Check for online resources that lead you to local chapters of pet loss grief support groups in your area.
Most groups are free to join and have flexible attendance policies. If you are in need of a recommendation, check with your vet and also from others in your area by posting on apps such as NextDoor and Neighbor.
7. Live in the moment
Living in the moment when dealing with pet loss means enjoying all that life has to offer right now at this very moment. It also means letting go of the past and not worrying too much about what tomorrow may bring.
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to say goodbye to your pet before they die, take the time to give them all your love and support during their last remaining days. Try not to anticipate the hurt and sorrow that their death will bring. Enjoy them while they are here, and worry about those things once you’re faced with them.
For now, focus on what’s in front of you and give your pet and these moments all your love and attention.
8. Complete unfinished business
Sometimes it’s difficult saying our goodbyes and we instead choose to divert our attention to other things instead of facing the reality that death is close. You can choose to make the most of your pet’s last days by sitting with them to tell them all the things you wished you would have said before. Let your pet know how much you love them and how much joy they have brought into your life.
If you feel regret over not having been the best caregiver a pet could have, tell them that as well. Offer your apologies and ask for their forgiveness and understanding. Your pet will likely listen and understand the sentiment behind your words.
9. Take more pictures
Setting aside some time to spend with your pet taking pictures can make for a fun day as you create new memories to last for the rest of their lifetime.
If your pet is at its final stages of life, it may be that they don’t have the energy to go out and frolic about as you follow with your camera. Instead, perhaps you can stay indoors and play dress-up, or have fun cooking special meals together and making your pet the official taste tester. This may liven their spirits as you create some final beautiful memories together.
How to Say Goodbye to a Pet On Social Media
Online platforms have made it easy to share the news of your pet’s death. This is a great way to let everyone in your social circles know that this is a special time of bereavement for you. The following may help you mourn the loss of your pet through social media.
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10. Create a memorial page
Consider setting up a memorial page in honor of your pet. You can invite a select group of people to share in your loss.
Also, you can invite them to view and post photos and memories of your pet and leave comments or condolences. A memorial page also serves as a pick-me-up for you when you’re feeling down.
11. Join an online support group
Online grief support groups connect you to others who have also lost a pet and are grieving their loss much like you are. These groups of virtual strangers coming together to offer support and encouragement are sometimes more effective in helping you cope with your loss than your social network at home.
Sometimes family and friends may not understand what you’re experiencing and may even downgrade your loss. With an online support group, you remain relatively anonymous in that no one knows you personally and you’re freer to be completely open about the extent of your pain and suffering without feeling shame or embarrassment over your grief.
12. Upload a special playlist
Music has a way of healing our souls when we are suffering through grief and mourning. There’s a vast library of bereavement music available online for free. When you feel the need for a special pick-me-up, take some time to compile a list of your favorites so that you can share online with others who may also be going through the same thing you are.
Your carefully curated list of songs may be just what another person needs to help them cope with their grief. You can add your playlist to free online sources such as YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook.
Post-mortem tip: If you lost your pet too quickly to be able to see or talk to them, let us guide you through what to do when you didn't get a chance to say goodbye.
Saying Your Forever Goodbyes
Saying goodbye is a painful process and one of the final acts of love that you will give to your beloved pet. Although it may seem as if your world has come crashing in around you, remember that time will soften the pain of your loss and it will heal you from your grief.