Grieving the Loss of a Pet: How to Say Goodbye to Your Best Mate


“How lucky are you to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?”

This is what one of my best friends said to me when my first dog passed away. It made me cry big, soppy, ugly, tears and then made me realise that she was absolutely right.

We were so lucky. 

Grieving the loss of a pet is never easy. Koah died from a very aggressive cancer at 11 years of age. Totally unexpectedly too. She was strong, healthy and happy one day and the next … she was in tremendous pain. I thought she might get better, but she didn’t.

Pet Memorial Ideas
I was lucky enough to have 11 years with Koah by my side. Source: Supplied

People say, “It’s just a dog”, and yes, she was just a dog. But she was a big part of our family. She was my first baby, my walking partner, my best friend. She was the master of digging holes for the kids and was awesome at playing hide and seek. 

Saying goodbye to Koah was incredibly difficult. The grief was unimaginable. But, as anyone who has experienced pet loss knows, the grief slowly lessens with time.

A great analogy about dealing with grief

The ball in the box theory is a good analogy towards dealing with grief. It suggests that grief is like a big ball in a box, with life on one side and a pain button on the other. At first, there’s not much you can do without the ball hitting the pain button. But, as time goes on, the ball shrinks in size and you can do things without it hurting. It does still hurt when something reminds you of your pet, or when the ball bounces and hits the pain button. But it does lessen. 

Time heals. But, for those who are currently struggling with the grief of pet loss or, if you’re preparing to say goodbye to your senior pet, please keep these pet loss tips in mind.

These small things helped heal us all in a big way and I hope they can provide you with some comfort through this difficult time.  

The Ball in the Box Grief Analogy
The Ball in the Box. Illustration by Bailey Mariner

Make the last days as comfortable as possible 

Every pet’s passing will be different. Many dogs and cats will be put to sleep or euthanised due to old age, illness or injury. This is a difficult decision that no one wants to make.

In the end, sometimes the pain is simply too much and there’s nothing more anyone can do. And, even though you don’t want to admit it and that it hurts so much, you know it’s their time to cross the Rainbow Bridge. 

1. Sweet Goodbye for Pets – Pet Caskets for Pet Loss

Looking back, the one thing I wish is that I could have made Koah’s last moments with us more comfortable. If you’ve never heard of Sweet Goodbye for Pets, I highly recommend taking a look at their pet loss products. They are designed especially for this difficult time when you’re preparing to say goodbye in the not-too-distant future. 

The Sweet Goodbye COCOON® Cotton is a fully biodegradable soft pet casket that doubles as a super cosy blanket for your senior pet, perfect for pet burial.

Dealing with the loss of a pet burial casket
The perfect pet casket to say goodbye. Source: Supplied

Not only are these soft pet caskets gorgeous and lovingly designed, but they are also fully biodegradable and make transferring your pet to its resting place much easier with sturdy, reliable handles. The pet caskets are also ideal for moving senior dogs or unwell pets around the house, to the vet or into the car for one last visit to the beach. 

Sweet Goodbye for Pets - Soft Pet Casket
Sweet Goodbye for Pets comes with everything you need to say goodbye. Source: Supplied

There are several sizes to suit all pets – dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and each eco-friendly Pet Farewell Kit also comes with a ceremony guidebook to help create your own special ceremony in honour of your beloved pet, plus a handmade heart and flower garland to place on your pet. It also comes with a memorial marker, a beautifully handcrafted, upcycled wood carving to always remember them by as well as a reusable carry bag to store your pet’s toys and accessories like their collar and leash once they have passed. 

Sweet goodbye for pets
Source: Supplied

mum centralSweet Goodbye for Pets comes with rave reviews and has helped thousands say goodbye to their pet with dignity. Take a look at how the pet caskets work in the video below. 

2. Plan a last meal

Many sick pets won’t have an appetite, but you can still offer them their favourite treats or meat. Stage a picnic with pillows and blankets and let everyone in the family sit beside your pet and enjoy a final meal together. Share stories, share memories, share tears and share cuddles. 

Not sure what to serve? Bacon and peanut butter sandwiches look awesome but this is entirely up to you.

For Koah’s last meal, I got us Maccas takeaway and we sat at the beach. She couldn’t eat much at that stage, but she nibbled on my pickle and I think she still appreciated it. I certainly did. 

Peanut Butter and Bacon Sandwiches
Source: Supplied

3. Commemorate pet loss with crafts

There are so many pet loss products out there and, it’s entirely up to your family which ones you’d like to consider. Urns, paw print posters, jewellery, puzzles, canvas prints, even a tattoo. But, you also have several homemade options that may be less pricey and bring a lot of meaning. 

Pet Memorial Ideas - Pet rocks
Source: Etsy

One thing we did that helped my children was we painted several ‘Pet’ rocks, similar to the ones above, but not quite as pretty (I am a terrible artist).

We spray-painted them silver, then drew paw prints and wrote her name. Then, after Koah passed, anytime we visited a place that she loved, like a park or beach, we would place a rock there. The kids still like going to the locations to see if the rocks are still there. 

Other crafty things to help celebrate your fur baby include scrapbooks, photo collages or paintings. 

4. Saying goodbye to your pet

Ask the kids to write down a few words or favourite memories to read out. You can do this before your pet passes or afterwards as part of a pet burial and memorial. You could also get them to draw a photo of their pet or make a bracelet to give the pet. 

You will most certainly be asked questions about why they have to say goodbye and why their pet needs to die. There’s no right way to go about this, but I think the quote below sums it up beautifully, and in a way little ones can understand. The idea comes from a 6-year-old who shared his insights with his dog’s vet after he passed. 

‘People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice. Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.’

Sweet Goodbye for Pets - Pet Loss
Source: Adobe Stock

5. Take time to visit 

If you have buried your pet, you and the kids may want to make a plan to take a walk to their resting place on the weekends.

We discovered a Pet Memorial Tree in one of our favourite parks where pet owners place photos of their pets for others to remember. Every time we visit the park, we always stop at the tree to say hello to Koah and her many puppy mates who are barking at birds and digging big holes across the Rainbow Bridge. 

Ask around to see if your town has anything similar, and, if not, consider starting one. 

Pet loss ideas
Dog Memorial Tree in Cairns. Source: Facebook

Supporting pet owners to say goodbye 

The thought of losing your pet isn’t a pleasant one. But, remember, we are so lucky to have had these amazing fur babies who make saying goodbye so hard.  I wish I had been more mentally and physically prepared to lose Koah but I am so grateful that we had her for as long as we did.

If you are preparing for your pet to make a trek across the Rainbow Bridge soon, take a look at Sweet Goodbye for Pets and find a Kit that is most suited to your beloved furry friend. Kits start at $63.80 and come in various styles and sizes for all pets. 

For a limited time, you can also receive 10% off all products in the Sweet Goodbye for Pets range using the code “MUMCENTRAL” at checkout. It’s always best to plan ahead, so that you’re not having to think about these things when the times come. Instead, you can focus on making their goodbye comfortable and peaceful for everyone.  

mum central

This is a sponsored post for Sweet Goodbye for Pets

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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