Pet Loss and Bereavement
Sheila C. Brown, MA, LMHC, NCC, CCMHC
Pets are family members, and when they are sick or die we experience feelings of loss and grief, just the same as the loss of a close friend or family member. Given the intense bond most of us share with our animals, it’s completely normal and natural to feel grief and sadness when a pet dies. While regrettably, our society does not always understand or support the grief we may feel nor understand the depth of feeling we have for our pets, you should never feel guilty or ashamed about grieving for your pet.
I have had the pleasure of sharing my life with a variety of animals. Currently, my family includes four cats, and over the years, I have experienced the sadness, worry and anxiety that occur when a pet experiences a serious illness. Having grieved the loss of my own pets, I can fully understand and appreciate the pain you may be feeling and how this can affect your daily life. Often, sharing your experiences with someone who understands your loss is helpful. It is even more helpful if you can do that and obtain some tools that you can use to cope with your feelings in a healthy and positive manner. There is no reason to go through this experience alone!
I am a licensed and nationally certified clinical mental health counselor and a member of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB). Having been in the field of mental health for 25 years, in varying capacities, I hold memberships in the American Counseling Association (ACA), the New York Mental Health Counselors Association (NYMHCA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).