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The Ralph Site - pet loss support

Welcome to The Ralph Site Blog

Hello, and welcome to The Ralph Site Blog.

We celebrate the unique place that pets have in our lives through regular features and practical advice on pet bereavement and other animal-related matters.

Pet loss support

The Ralph Site is a non-profit online pet loss support resource which provides support to pet carers coping with the loss of a beloved companion. There are a website and an active Facebook community with a public page and a private group.

Pet carers’ community

The Ralph Site aims to provide a non-judgmental and supportive place for those pet carers who have lost a much-loved member of the family. We know all too well the pain and heartbreak that accompanies the passing of your pet. And whilst these pets can never be replaced, we may find room to enrich our lives further with others when the time is right.

At The Ralph Site, we understand the special bond between you and your pets.

Thank you for your support.

 

60 pet loss quotes to bring you comfort

Losing a pet is undeniably hard. The grief can be overwhelming and people often express feelings of loneliness and being unseen as they struggle to come to terms with their bereavement. 

It can be hard to know where to turn for comfort but some people find it helpful to read the words and wisdoms of others who have experienced their own losses, both animal and human, to feel a little less alone.

Knowing this, we’ve put together 60 pet loss quotes to bring you comfort or if you’re looking for something supportive to say to a friend who has recently lost a beloved pet.

General quotes about grief and pet loss

  1. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France
  2. “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  3. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” From an Irish Headstone
  4. “The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.”  Hilary Stanton Zunin
    “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” Vicki Harrison
  5. “There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.” Aeschylus
  6. “I should know enough about loss to realize that you never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence.” Alyson Noel
  7. “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love [them].” Amy Sedaris
  8. “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” James Herriot
  9. “Our animal friends teach us more than we could have expected and love us more than we could have hoped… that’s why we miss them more than we could have imagined.” Unknown
  10. “They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite.” Cassandra Clare
  11. “If there is a heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them.” Pam Brown
  12. “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving
  13. “To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.” Hermione Gingold
  14. “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”  Khalil Gibran
  15. “Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.” Author Unknown
  16. “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.Helen Keller
  17. “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.” John Galsworthy
  18. “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” Pierre Auguste Renoir
  19. “Grief doesn’t have a plot. It isn’t smooth. There is no beginning and middle and end.” Ann Hood
  20. “Sorrow is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.” Rita Mae Brown
  21. “It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”  John Grogan
  22. “Pets’ lives are too short. Their only fault.” Agnes Sligh Turnbull
  23. “I feel about my pets now, and all the pets I had before this, the way I feel about children — they are that important to me. When I have lost a pet I have gone into a mourning period that lasted for months.” Mary Tyler Moore
  24. “The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude.” Robert Brault
  25. “They bring us love and happiness and comfort without end. It’s hard to face such sadness without your furry friend.” Unknown
  26. “No matter how or when we lose our furry friends, their love lasts a lifetime.” Unknown
  27. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Winnie the Pooh
  28. “Gradually… and with time… letting go of the pain of our loss, bit by bit, never means letting go of our love.” Barbara Schulte
  29. “No time on earth is long enough to share with the animals we love, or prepare our hearts to say goodbye.” Unknown
  30. “It’s the depth of love that determines the depth of grief, not whether the loved one was human or animal.” Unknown

Comforting quotes about losing a dog

  1. “The misery of keeping a dog is his dying so soon. But, to be sure, if he lived for fifty years and then died, what would become of me?” Sir Walter Scott 
  2. “Dogs are small rays of light caught on Earth for a short time to brighten our days.” Unknown
  3. “Dogs leave pawprints on our hearts” Author Unknown
  4. “Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes.” Gene Hill
  5. “The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be.” Konrad Lorenz
  6. “I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?” Sir Walter Scott
  7. “I guess you don’t really own a dog, you rent them, and you have to be thankful that you had a long lease.” Joe Garagiola
  8. “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” Will Rogers
  9. “Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog, it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs your heart is very big.”  Erica Jong
  10. “The worst thing about losing your dog is not having someone there to lick your tears away.” Unknown
  11. “Having a dog will bless you with the happiest days of your life, and one of the worst days.” Unknown

Comforting quotes about losing a cat

  1. “The loss of a cat is immeasurable. But so is the love left behind.” Unknown
  2. “Your favourite chair is empty now, where you would lie and sleep.
    But the memory of our happy times is mine to always keep.” Unknown
  3. “What greater gift than the love of a cat.” Charles Dickens
  4. “When the cat you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.” Unknown
  5. “Sometimes a very special cat enters our lives…their presence changes our hearts forever. And we can call ourselves blessed for having known them.” Unknown
  6. “If you have a cat, you will most likely outlive [them]. To get a cat is to open yourself to profound joy and prospectively, to equally profound sadness.” Unknown
  7. “One day all the cats we’ve ever loved will all come running towards us and that day will be a good day.” Unknown
  8. “No one can truly understand the bond that we form with our cats we love until they experience the loss of one.” Unknown
  9. “The memories and paw print of a beloved cat remains in our heart and soul forever.” Unknown
  10. “The love of a cat is like a symphony. It is a waste of time trying to explain its depths to those who don’t cherish it.” Unknown
  11. “No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.” Leo Dworken
  12. “Someone asked me what the most difficult thing about having a cat was. I replied: ’the goodbye’.” Unknown

Pet loss quotes for a special horse

  1. “Once touched by the spirit of a horse, your soul remains forever enlightened.” Unknown
  2. “Horses lend us the wings we lack.” Anonymous
  3. “Always remember that once a horse has touched your soul, they will always be with you.” Unknown
  4. “While time will fade these hoofprints, the ones left on your heart will never disappear.” Unknown
  5. “The love of a horse knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” Unknown
  6. “The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom.” Sharon Ralls Lemon

We hope these quotes provide you some comfort. Please do take a look around the other articles on our blog for more pet loss grief support.

You are not alone.Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Grieving an ‘unusual’ pet: Finding support when some people don’t understand your loss

Have you come to this site because you’re grieving what others might refer to as an ‘unusual’ or ‘exotic’ pet such as a snake, lizard, tortoise or tarantula as just a few examples?

You might feel that no-one understands your pain and the loss you have experienced.

Animals come in all shapes and sizes, just like the humans who care for them. Regardless of their species, when they die, any animal can leave a huge hole and a tremendous amount of grief.

We want you to know that we’re here for you. The pet loss advice throughout the site applies to any animal and their humans.

We are truly sorry for your loss.

Caring for an ‘unconventional’ pet

When researching this blog, we read through forums for people who are passionate about caring for reptiles, fish, spiders and many other animals. One of the most striking things was that there were so many posts from people saying, “I’m scared you’re going to laugh at me but I’m in so much pain after losing my snake (for example) and no-one seems to understand”.

It seems that exotic pet carers can feel even more invisible and disenfranchised in their grief than people who lose more ‘conventional’ pets such as dogs or cats.

But the pain is just as real and valid.

On one forum, someone had recently lost their favourite snake. They simply couldn’t come to terms with how such a beautiful animal, their pride and joy, was no longer in the world. They had spent years learning about and caring for snakes but this most recent loss had completely floored them.

The grief of this particular person leapt out of the screen. They wanted to share photos, talk about their snake’s wonderful quirks and mourn their loss but they didn’t know who would understand.

Thankfully, many people on this particular forum had responded with empathy and understanding.

Find people who understand

Sadly, some people will never understand how we can grieve for what they see as an ‘unusual’ pet. 

Animals such as snakes, spiders, scorpions, birds or rats, for example, are often the focus of phobias, so there will always be those who struggle to see how these animals can elicit feelings of love.

But your experience is different. You know the joy of caring for one or more of these animals.

Be reassured that your tribe is out there – people who understand your loss, who know the care you took over your pet and how they shaped the patterns of your life. 

Pop into The Ralph Site’s Pet Loss Support Group on Facebook and you’ll be able to find some kindred spirits who have experienced their own losses and can offer you support at this difficult time.

Coping with pet loss grief

There are many articles on The Ralph Site blog dedicated to helping you cope with pet loss grief and the different emotions you may be experiencing. We’d like to share some of the key advice here:

  1. Feel your feelings

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. People often feel embarrassed about grieving for an animal but the reality is that grief happens whenever we lose someone or something that we love from our life. You are entitled to feel your loss and all of the feelings that go with it. 

Instead of fighting how you feel or believing that you need to bottle up your grief, try to give your feelings space to exist.

  1. Grief has no timeframe

In The Ralph Site support group, people often say, “I know I should be feeling better by now” as if there is a time limit on grief. This really isn’t the case. No-one else gets to say when you are ‘done’ grieving. In fact, most people find that they always carry their grief to a certain extent – it’s just that it changes shape and becomes easier to live with eventually.

  1. Acknowledge what you have lost

As pet carers, our pets shape our lives. Perhaps your living room is organised around a vivarium or your usual daily routine is built around feeding or handling your pet. Maybe you’ve made friends with people who are interested in the same kind of pets or you’re an active member of forums dedicated to pet care.

When a pet dies, it’s not just them that we lose but the routines and even the relationships that we embraced because of that pet. Naturally, this adds another level to your grief and it’s important to acknowledge that.

  1. Practice self-care

When you’re grieving, it can be hard to find the energy for self-care. Put a little time aside each day to eat something nutritious or to get moving. Spend time with your other pets, if you have them – caring for them and maintaining their routines is important and will hopefully help you feel better in the darkest moments.

Many people find it helpful to memorialise the pet who has died or to journal their grief. If you’re a creative person, how about making a tribute to your so-called ‘unusual’ pet?

Again, there is no right or wrong – only what feels right for you.

  1. Reach out for support

There seems to be a growing understanding in our society that pet loss grief can affect us as deeply as grief for our human loved ones. Do talk to your friends and family about how you’re feeling, if you are able. 

Sometimes though, it helps to talk to other bereaved pet carers, which is why The Ralph Site exists. We’ve already mentioned our Facebook support group – please do check it out

You might also find it helpful to talk to a pet bereavement counsellor or the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Service

Conclusion

Yes, some people may describe your pet as ‘unusual’, ‘exotic’ or ‘unconventional’ but who’s to say what’s unusual, really? Whatever their species, your pet was part of your family, your life and the security of being at home. It’s little wonder that you miss them.

And remember that grief is grief, whatever its cause. It can be incredibly hard to process what has happened when the rest of the world seems to be carrying on, oblivious. Just know that there are people who understand. 

You are not alone.

Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

How to cope when pet loss grief overwhelms you

Within the worst moments of pet loss grief, it can be hard to imagine that you’ll ever function ‘normally’ again. You feel exhausted, stuck and overwhelmed. You can’t think clearly and sometimes wonder how you can go on as you’re in so much pain.

One of the most challenging things about grief of any kind is that it isn’t linear. The feeling of being overwhelmed can hit you like a crashing wave weeks, months or even years after your loss. 

So, how can you cope when you’re overwhelmed and drowning in grief? We’ve put together some tips.

Tips for coping when grief overwhelms you

  1. Acknowledge that you’re grieving

It might sound obvious but the reason you feel the way you do is because you are grieving. You have lost someone truly special and now carry the burden of their absence. 

The question is, have you allowed yourself to acknowledge this or have you been trying to carry on as ‘normal’ (whatever that may be to you)?

Grief isn’t always something we cope with well as a society. We know death happens but we don’t really know how to talk about it.

With a disenfranchised grief like pet loss, it can be even harder to talk about what and who we’ve lost or to find support and sympathy. People just don’t understand how heart-breaking pet loss can be unless they’ve personally experienced it.

As a result, you may feel that you have to keep the true extent of your pet loss grief to yourself or that you’re alone.

One of the first steps towards coping with overwhelm is acknowledging the presence of grief.

  1. Feel your feelings, whatever they may be

Grief is complex and ever-changing. You might be feeling lonely, sad, bereft, angry, guilty or anxious – or some combination of the above – at any given moment. No wonder you feel overwhelmed!

Although your instincts are probably to keep busy and move through your grief as quickly as possible, this response usually has the opposite effect, keeping you stuck in the moment of your loss for longer.

The truth is that the only way to cope with grief is to experience it in all of its forms. 

This means letting your feelings come and go without judgement or resistance. There is no right or wrong way to grieve but try to touch your feelings and give them space to exist. As scary as this sounds, you can only move through grief by making contact with it.

  1. Find safe spaces

It can be helpful to earmark some safe spaces that you can go to when you’re feeling overwhelmed. This will look different to everyone but here are some potential safe spaces:

  • A warm bath or shower where you want somewhere private to cry
  • Parking your car in an empty car park on the local industrial estate when you want to scream at the top of your lungs to release your anger
  • A friend or family member you can call or speak to for comfort
  • Your favourite hill, beach or park when you want space to think

And don’t forget virtual spaces too. The Ralph Site Pet Loss Support Group on Facebook is a safe space to talk about your grief.

  1. Trust that nothing lasts forever

As hard as it can be to believe it, the reality is that even the toughest, darkest of moments lived in grief will eventually pass or change shape in some way. 

Trust is so important right now. Trust that you will eventually find a way back to yourself beyond these feelings of being overwhelmed. Yes, you may always carry your grief with you but, when it’s allowed space to be expressed, most people find it eventually softens and becomes easier to carry. 

  1. Be kind to yourself

What you’re feeling is natural, normal and completely understandable. Your grief exists because it’s a part of love. You need time to adjust to your loss. This takes a lot of emotional energy, which is why everyday life can feel so daunting when you’re mourning a pet. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to pinpoint one small thing that you can do right now to take care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing. 

Could you sit with a cuppa somewhere peaceful or read a passage from your favourite book? Is there someone you could call for a chat or even send a text saying hi?

Maybe you need to go even smaller. Can you close your eyes, take a deep breath and release it slowly?

It’s amazing how small actions can help you to cope with overwhelm, even if it’s just standing up for a few moments, walking five paces and then sitting down again to bring your mind back to the here and now.

Accessing support

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s important that you reach out for support if you feel able. Just knowing someone is there for you can help to lighten the burden of grief or at least to reshape it into something more manageable.

There are a growing number of dedicated pet bereavement counsellors who understand the impact of pet loss. You may also find the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service helpful. Of course, The Ralph Site is here for you too.

Always know that you’re not alone. Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Gone too soon: Coping with the loss of a young pet

When a young pet joins your family, it is always a time of excitement and happiness (with some possible training stress thrown into the mix for those of you with dogs, cats, or rabbits!)

You think about the years of fun, love, and companionship ahead of you. This is true whether your young pet is a tiny hamster, a quirky axolotl, a snake, a guinea pig, a playful kitten, or a giant breed of dog (and every shape, size, or species in between).

As you plan for the future that includes your young pet, their death is probably the farthest thing from your mind.

Sadly, though, many people within The Ralph Site community find themselves having to cope with the loss of a young pet. It could be what has brought you to this site.

Is there a way of ‘coming to terms’ with the premature death of a pet? How can you process your loss when your companion has quite simply gone before their time? Is it possible to find comfort when all you can think about is how horribly unfair life is to rob your pet of their future when there was still so much of it in front of them?

Death is never easy

We know that death is never easy but when a young pet dies, it can throw everything you know into doubt. People talk about the ‘natural order’ of things and the cycle of life and death but reconciling that with a young animal can feel impossible.

All that potential. All those experiences that you hoped to share. Surely, to lose those before they had a chance to happen goes against the ‘natural order’ of life?

We’ve talked before on The Ralph Site about coping with sudden and unexpected pet loss. Perhaps, in pet loss terms, nothing is more sudden and unexpected than when a young animal dies.

It can be incredibly hard to process.

In the face of such a bereavement, people report a wide range of emotions. Bewilderment is common – surely this cannot be real? Anger too – it is so desperately unfair. You might feel anxious and unsafe because it seems like nothing has happened as it should. And let us not forget the guilt that is so deeply tied to pet loss. Guardians of young pets often experience a significant amount of guilt because they feel they should have been able to guarantee their companion a long life. 

Whatever you are feeling, there are no right or wrong emotions. Grief is different for everyone and it is important to experience your feelings as they happen instead of bottling things up inside.

It is unfair and heart-breaking and so very wrong that your young pet has died. No wonder you feel all these emotions and more.

Unhelpful things other people say

Pet loss is a type of disenfranchised grief that is not recognised by everyone in our wider society. You may find that some of your friends and family just do not know what to say to support you. This could be because they do not understand the depth of your loss or because they do not want to say the wrong thing.

When a young animal dies, it is very common to be told, “Everything happens for a reason”, “He’s in a better place” or “It just goes to show that you never know what’s going to happen, which is why we need to live each day like it’s our last” (and other varieties of things people say when they are trying to give a bereaved person comfort).

These expressions can be hurtful. Your pet was in the best place with your family – a place where they were loved, and they mattered. What kind of reason can there be for a young animal to die? 

Even sentiments like “we have to live like there’s no tomorrow” can be tough to take. After all, youth is so often about creating the foundations for the future. It is natural to want to make plans with your pet. The fact that you can’t can leave you feeling cheated.

People mean well when they say these things, but the truth is that sometimes the best thing anyone can do is sit in silence with you or tell you that they care, and they are sorry for your loss.

If you don’t have anyone who can say this to you face-to-face right now, The Ralph Site Facebook group is full of people who have experienced losses of their own and will metaphorically sit by your side in support at this tough time.

Coping with your grief

Is there a way to ‘get over’ grief? This is a question that many bereaved people ask.

The truth is that grief never truly goes away. However, it does change its nature with time – or maybe it is more accurate to say that we learn to live with it as part of us. It becomes part of our new ‘normal’. Check out some of the grief analogies that explain this perfectly. 

If you are struggling after losing a young pet, the following may help you:

  • Allow yourself time to feel the truth of your loss

When a death is unexpected, it is common to feel shocked, confused, numb and full of disbelief. Surely, someone has made a mistake?

In many ways, death rites in our society create space for these early feelings. They give you practical tasks to focus on when you are reeling from shock. They also help you to feel that you are accompanying your deceased loved one on a passage from life into death, which can be hugely comforting.

But, of course, these rites are not automatically part of pet loss, a fact that can leave you lost in terms of how to react to your bereavement.

You may find it helpful to arrange a memorial service for your pet or arrange a cremation or burial. The act of doing this can give you time to feel the truth of your loss.

Remember too that you will continue to need time.

Grief is not linear, and it does not come with an expiry date. It takes a long time to become part of the fabric of who you are, and it is threaded with many emotions. Be kind to yourself and sit with whatever you are feeling instead of trying to push your thoughts and feelings away. 

  • Think about the quality of your pet’s life, not the quantity

It is natural to be preoccupied with the fact that your pet has died and the circumstances surrounding their death. Most people respond to bereavement in this way.

Your brain will be doing everything in its power to make sense of what has happened, even if there really is no explanation to be found.

The downside of this need for sense is that you can get stuck on the events surrounding your pet’s death rather than celebrating their life. It is important to make their story about more than how they died. 

How would you describe your pet to someone who did not know them? What were their unique quirks? What happy memories did you share together? How did it make you feel to hold them or spend time with them? 

It can be helpful to remind yourself of all the ways your pet had a great quality of life, even if they were robbed of quantity. 

  • Recognise that your pet’s death was beyond your control

When we experience pet loss, especially when we are mourning a young and previously healthy pet, we often look for someone to blame. It could be that you are blaming yourself, a family member or even a stranger who was somehow involved in your pet’s death, e.g., a driver or your vet.

Again, blame is a common response to loss, especially as we strive to make sense of what happened. However, it can cause you to become consumed with anger and is generally a futile use of your energy. After all, even if someone is directly to blame, it cannot change what has happened.

A helpful tactic here is to think about the circumstances and intentions surrounding your pet’s death. 

Did you or anyone else intend to cause harm to your pet? 

If you or anyone else could have known what would happen, would they have done things differently?

Could you or anyone else have known what would happen?

The chances are that there was no intention of harm or malice towards your pet. As unfair as it is, accidents happen, and illnesses occur. If only they did not. 

Please think about your own intentions towards your pet and recognise that you only ever wanted good things for them. Their death does not change the truth of that.

  • Honour your pet’s life

The founder of the worldwide Scout movement, Robert Baden Powell, said that we should each “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it”.

In fact, many people believe that this is the very definition of a life well lived – to make our own little corners of the world better for having existed in them.

Well, your pet achieved that. They made the world better by existing and the memories they have given you ensure that this gift will always stay with you. 

Is there anything you can do to continue this legacy? Is there goodness that you can put into the world to honour your pet?

Perhaps you could support an animal charity, foster or adopt another animal when you feel ready or raise awareness about an issue that affected your pet, such as road safety or a rare health condition.

Even creating a memorial or writing a letter to your pet about the life you had hoped they would live can help to provide comfort.

  • Talk about your loss

It is important to be able to talk about your loss if you need to. Ideally, support will come from your friends and family but sometimes it helps to speak to other bereaved pet carers who understand the array of emotions you are experiencing. The Ralph Site Pet Loss Support Group is there for you.

You might also find it beneficial to talk to a pet bereavement counsellor. Many people find this instrumental to processing their grief. The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service is an excellent starting point.

Just know that, although your loss is yours alone and no-one can truly know how you are feeling, you are not alone in your grief. The Ralph Site is here for you.

Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Best Friends Forever: A book about practical steps and wisdom to ease pet loss

In Best Friends Forever, Debbie McLeod weaves together her own reflections on pet loss with real-life stories and poems collected from bereaved pet carers. The book is a powerful, practical guide that combines compassionate thoughts of loss with easy-to-grasp concepts aimed to help you process your grief and move through feelings that you might be struggling to express.

It’s clear that Debbie has a great affinity with animals and has experienced pet bereavement in her own life. The book takes an honest look at the anger, sadness and fear you may feel following the death of a pet.

However, although the book explores the difficult and often overwhelming emotions of grief, its real strength is its optimism. Debbie encourages us to recognise the unbreakable bonds formed with much-loved pets and how these bonds continue, even after death.

A spiritual journey

There is a deeply spiritual element to this book, which will be of great comfort to readers who believe or are looking for signs that our pets live on beyond their inevitable physical death.

Throughout the book, Debbie recalls the signs and messages that she and other bereaved pet carers have received from their deceased pets. In fact, Chapter 6: Whispers of Love is dedicated to examples of moments when the people interviewed for the book have felt the presence and reassurance of their departed animal companions.

Even if you don’t believe in any kind of afterlife, there is still plenty in Best Friends Forever that will resonate. Debbie talks beautifully about how the love we feel for a pet lives on inside of us, as well as in our memories or by shaping the path our life takes.

Validating all pet loss grief and experiences

This book will offer comfort to bereaved pet carers from all walks of life. Whether you’ve suffered the trauma of having to rehome a pet or having a pet go missing or you’ve lost an elderly pet, there will be someone in the book who has shared a similar experience.

There are also examples of people grieving for dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, hamsters and gerbils. Any type of loss is treated with equal sensitivity and compassion.

Debbie explores how the loss of a pet can sometimes tap into other bereavements in our lives that we perhaps haven’t dealt with. Several of the pet carers shared with her about losing a parent and only starting to grieve for them when their pet died.

Pet loss poems and reflective exercises

The poems that punctuate the key points covered in Best Friends Forever are powerful and moving. Written by the interviewed pet carers or by Debbie but with the carers’ approval, each one is a beautiful testament to the animal that inspired it. You can almost feel the unique personality of each pet surrounding you as you read each poem. The verses also provide a shorthand into the different experiences of grief.

Another strength of the book is the reflective exercises at the end of each chapter. These exercises encourage us, as bereaved pet carers, to sit with and acknowledge our feelings rather than attempting to bury them. Debbie gives ideas for helpful activities such as journaling, meditations and reflective questions to help you process your grief.

Reading this book, the message that stands out is that love and grief are both parts of the same whole. In other words, whenever there is deep love in life, deep feelings of grief will be experienced. The truth is that love – even with the risk of loss – is what makes life worth living.

A quote from David Henry Thoreau introduces Chapter 7; “There is no remedy for love, but to love more”.

And that’s the essence of Best Friends Forever. Debbie encourages us to see death and grief as part of a bigger picture, an unavoidable but essential element of life, and a transition rather than an end. We will come through our grief changed from the people we were before our loss but that change will be shaped by the unconditional love, trust and kindness given to us by our pets. The love we feel lives on.

Best Friends Forever is available for purchase on Amazon.

Author Debbie McLeod runs a Facebook group dedicated to Spirituality and Pets. This supportive group focuses on the wisdom, healing and teachings our pets bring us whether on this Earthly Plane or in Spirit.

You can also find out more about Debbie at https://www.debbiemcleod.co.uk/