Pet Grief

Occasionally, I find letters in my inbox from someone who has read one of my articles. Today was such a day.
Hello Tracy,
We just lost our dog today in an untimely death/accident. I blame myself, and I feel sick, sad, weak, and I’ve been crying most all of today! It hurts so much when you lose a pet. The pain of loss is so unbearable and never-ending. It will always be with me forever and ever. Do you have any grief briefs concerning pet loss that I could read? I will check your blog, thanks for your help.
Kelly from Alaska
Dear Kelly,
I am so sorry to hear of your pet's death. I have pets myself, and just can't bear to think of the day that they will die. Although I do not know the circumstances of your pet's passing, I wanted to let you know that it is natural to blame yourself when accidents occur. As your pet's custodian, you naturally feel responsible when tragedy occurs. Accidents, however, are called accidents for a very specific reason...they are accidental. Even when accidents are caused through carelessness, they are still accidental. Although one may feel a measure of responsibility in the circumstances; unless one purposefully causes the death of a beloved pet, an accident remains an accident.
I know this does not take the pain away. I have pets that have passed away, and at times, I will think of things I might have done better, that may have prolonged their lives. Unfortunately, there are no do-overs. I have to realize that I have learned to do better, and in my stewardship over my current pets, I will be more alert and proactive.
I am sorry for your loss and know that you will suffer and mull over in your mind the things you wish you had done differently. When this happens, remember the good things you did and the joy you shared with your pet. Eventually, fond memories will override the pain, and you will realize that you are a better person because of the love you shared with your pet, and the lessons you have learned through them.
I do not have pet specific articles because I specialize in human loss. Loss, however, stretches over all life. Grief is the same whether you have lost a pet or person. The depth of grief is based on the depth of love. I know your heart is full of love and very sad right now. I hope you will mend without complications.
Take care and feel free to write me again if you would like.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
Please follow my blog at, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information


Ground burial has long been the traditional choice for interment in America.  In recent years however, cremation has become a viable choice, among the adventurous baby boomers.  As they prepare for their final expenses, many questions arise.  One question, in particular, is asked more often than any other,  “Can my pet be cremated with me?”
It is illegal to co-mingle human cremains.  In other words, two humans, may not be cremated in the same chamber, at the same time.  Likewise, it is illegal, to cremate an animal, where human beings are cremated.  Plainly speaking, your pet may not be cremated, at the same crematorium, where you may be cremated. 
As a licensed funeral director, I often witness family members slipping mementos into a loved one’s casket, immediately before it is closed.  In fact, I recently observed a very young nephew, slip a little wooden box, into his Uncle’s casket.  The box had a doggy paw engraved upon it, next to the name, “Love.”  It was a very touching moment, and caused me to think seriously about my own pet’s living situation, when my time comes to meet my maker.
As with interment, inurnment (the process of placing cremains in an urn), offers unique choices, to achieve your final wishes.  One might choose an appropriate location where their cremains, and the cremains of their pet, might be sprinkled together.  An appropriate choice might be the old oak tree, at his or her family home place.  If one has chosen to have their cremains buried, a double cremation vault might be an appropriate selection.  A double cremation vault encases two urns of cremains.  One urn might encase the master’s cremains, the other urn might encase the pet’s cremains.
If you find yourself in this unique situation, you will need to have the assistance of a very special someone to accomplish your final wishes.  It may just turn out, that your very young nephew, surprisingly  steps forward to accomplish this final act of “Love” for you and your pet. 
My best advice:  “Be kind to animals, and to your very young nephews.  Sometimes even the tiniest humans turn out to be our biggest champions.”