Pet Loss & Grief

Providing pet cremation services with a caring touch

Our best friend, our family member, our beloved pet – how do we say goodbye?

They have been through it all with us: breakups, heartaches, the good and the bad. They loved us unconditionally and kept our deepest secrets.

Now where do we turn for that source of comfort and love?

Below we have listed helpful resources and information, if you need further help however, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Icon of black and white broken heart
Image of purple flowers

Losing our pet, and the ability to find a way to say goodbye, may be one of the most difficult times of our lives.

Some people may not understand your grief; and even you yourself may not quite understand the stages of what you are feeling.

Just know that you’re not alone. There are many different resources to receive support for the grief you are feeling.

Pet Loss Resources and Information

Therapists and Resources

Although grieving is handled differently by each person, here are the general stages you may go through:

  • Shock, Denial, and Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Spiritual Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance and Recovery

We work with local therapists and Hospice groups, who can provide assistance to you during this hard time. You may contact:

1. Elizabeth B. Hasel, Ph.D.
(805) 423-7546

2. There is also a Pet Loss Support Group which meets at the San Luis Obispo Hospice.

3. Hospice of San Luis Obispo County, Inc.,
1432 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, CA
Phone: (805) 544-2266

4. Joseph Lancaster Bakersfield, CA
Phone: (661) 327-4252

5. Laurie Brewer Bakersfield, CA
Phone: (661) 395-1068

Please understand that here at Eden Memorial Pet Care, we understand your grief, and how much the loss of a pet means, and we are here for you if you need us.

Articles, Radio Interview & Poems


Bring Your Horse Home Forever
Article about Horse Cremation

Facing The Future, and Afterlife Plans for Your Animal Companion
Interview with: Christine Johnson – General Manager of Eden Memorial Pet Care

Loss Can Be Made Easier With the Help of Eden Memorial Pet Care
Interview with Christine Johnson – General Manager of Eden Memorial Pet Care

It’s Time to Let Go, When and How
When is it time to let go of a beloved equine friend?

Children and Pet Loss
After a beloved pet dies, we find it hard to accept; but what about young children? How do we explain the death of a pet and help them deal with the reality and emotions?

This can be a very sensitive issue and should be handled with care and honesty. Since children’s emotional maturity and imagination change from one age to another, it is important to handle the subject of death appropriately for each age.

In this article we provide some suggestions and helpful hints how to handle this.

First and foremost, at what ever age, tell your children the truth. According to Marty Tously, a bereavement counselor for the Pet Grief Support Service, “Honesty is the best policy…this means using the actual words — death and dying.”

She goes onto to explain that it’s ok to explain the permanence of death, but do it gently and try not to confuse what dying actually means.”

It’s important for you to know where your child’s mental maturity and cognitive development is at, because this plays a large role in how you explain the process of death and words you choose to use.

For example, in an article written by Alex Lieber “Explaining Pet Loss to Children – The 6’s Do’s and Don’ts” she reports that Tously recommends the following guidelines:

  • Under 2: A child can feel and respond to a pet’s death, based on the reaction of those around him or her, and picks up the stress felt by family members
  • 2 to 5: The child will miss the animal as a playmate, but not necessarily as a love object. They will see death as a temporary state, and may regress in their behavior (e.g., thumb sucking).
  • 5 to 9: Children begin to perceive death as permanent, but they may indulge in “magical thinking,” believing that death can be defied or bargained with. This is also the period when children recognize a correlation between what they think and what actually happens.
  • 10 and up: Children generally understand that all living things will eventually die, and that death is total. Understanding and accepting are two different things, however. They may go through the normal stages of grief that grownups do: denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, depression and acceptance.

When it comes to the actual “Dos and Don’ts”, the number one “don’t” is do not lie. Using phrases like “fluffy went away” or “fluffy was put to sleep” can cause resentment and confusion.

These euphemisms can also cause traumatic anxiety in a child. To use the example of “fluffy was put to sleep”, a child may suffer from a sleep anxiety due to the thought that the same thing might happen to them.

Here are Tously’s 6 “Dos and Don’ts” taken from Alex Lieber’s article: “Explaining Pet Loss to Children – The 6’s Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. Be open and honest. This includes the pet’s health and euthanasia. The child needs to be told as soon as possible by the parent. Some children want to be present during euthanasia and most will be very curious about the process.

    You should answer their questions during this time. Some veterinarians are firmly against it having children present; but others say it depends on the child’s age and maturity.

    A veterinarian can help the parent explain why euthanasia may be the most humane option, and answer any questions a child may have.

  2. Make sure the child understands what “dying” means. Explain that the animal’s body stopped working. It is important for the child to know that the pet has died and will not be coming back.
  3. Be available to let your child discuss his/her feelings about what happened. You may want to hold your own service to memorialize the pet and to say goodbye formally. Some people may spread the pet’s ashes after cremation or plant trees in a special spot.

    Others bury the pet in a cemetery so the family can visit. Encourage your child to show his/her feelings by talking or writing about the fun times they had with their pet.

  4. Show your own feelings. This tells the child that the pet was special and that they are not grieving alone. You can also encourage your child to open up, which can help the healing process.
  5. Tell your child’s teachers about the loss, so they will understand why your child is behaving differently.
  6. Don’t blame the veterinarian. Some parents, especially those who fear explaining euthanasia to their children, find it easier to lay it all on the vet.

    This is not only unfair to the veterinarian, but potentially harmful to the child. He or she may grow up distrusting veterinarians and, by extension, doctors and other medical professionals.

The last thing to remember is that we as parents, grandparents, and friends should not try to ease the child’s pain by immediately buying another pet. Give your child some time; they are much more resilient than we give them credit for.

We also don’t want the child to think that the pet, who is a member of our family, is so quickly replaceable.

Remember that grief affects us all differently. Give your child time to honor, remember, and mourn their friend/family member. This is a sensitive time for all involved.

Christine Johnson is General Manger of Eden Memorial Pet Care, which specializes in pet cremation services As the daughter of a veterinarian, she finds her passion in helping people, especially those who have recently experienced the loss of a dog, cat or other pet.

Copyright 2006 Christine Johnson. All rights reserved.

How Am I to Deal with the Death of My Beloved Pet?
Death – we all don’t like to talk about it; especially, when we are personally faced with it. And when we have a friend or family member faced with it, many of us feel like we do not know what to say or do.

What is appropriate? These are issues I personally face each day as General Manager of Eden Memorial Pet Care, where I help people through their grieving process when they have lost a pet.

For many of us, our pets are our family and going through the loss of a pet can be extremely emotional.

Our pets in many ways are eternal children, who depend on us for food, love, and shelter. And what do they give us in return?

Our pets give us nothing but unconditional love. So how do we deal with our grief when they are no longer with us?

The thing to remember is that grief is individual. For one person grieving might entail talking about their pet and sharing stories; but to another grieving might be pulling the covers over their head and crying.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

There is also no time frame. I have clients that have grieved in a matter of weeks and others that are still having hard days after one year.

What is important in the grieving process is to grieve at your own pace and do what feels right to you.

You might recognize yourself going through the following steps of grief, they include:

  • Shock, Denial, and Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Spiritual Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance and Recovery

Some helpful ways to get through these steps may include:

  • Talking about your pet with friends, family, or counselor/priest
  • Going through photos
  • Reading and learning from others going through pet loss
  • Joining a “pet loss” support group or creating your own
  • Memorializing your pet

This may include:

  • Having a spiritual ceremony
  • Creating a memorial head stone for the burial site
  • Creating a memorial plaque for an urn and/or wall
  • If you chose cremation for your pet; spreading the ashes in a special place
  • Choosing a place in your home for a photo and special poem

Some people might find it hard to understand how one can be so emotional after losing an animal.

But in many cases, people have a harder time grieving a loss of a pet versus grieving a human family member or friend…and feel guilty for it.

For those of us who have a friend or family member struggling with this difficult time, assisting them in any way through this process can be helpful.

The best way to lend a hand is to listen. Many people, who are mourning, just need to talk and have a good shoulder to cry on.

Here are some other ways to help:

  • Refer above and make suggestions or offer to aid in memorializing their pet
  • Let them know you care
  • Listen

This is an extremely difficult and sensitive time.

If you are the one who has lost your pet and/or helping a friend or family member through this time, just know that it is completely normal to grieve.

It is alright to mourn in any way you choose or for any amount of time. You will get through it and do not do it alone…there is someone out there to listen.

Christine Johnson is General Manger of Eden Memorial Pet Care, which specializes in pet cremation services As the daughter of a veterinarian, she finds her passion in helping people, especially those who have recently experienced the loss of a dog, cat or other pet.

Copyright 2006 Christine Johnson. All rights reserved.


14-minute Radio Interview with Christine Johnson, General Manager of Eden Memorial Pet Care: “Finding Hope in Pet Loss”

Link to Radio Interview for browsers that don’t support iframes



Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die…



There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors.
Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,
hills, and valleys with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.
There is always food and water and warm spring weather.
The old and frail animals are young again. Those who are maimed
are made whole again. They play all day with each other.

There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special
person who loved them on Earth. So, each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up!
The nose twitches! The ears perk up!
The eyes are staring! And this one suddenly runs from the group!

You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him or her in your arms and embrace.
Your face is kissed again and again and again, and you look once
more into the eyes of your trusting pet.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together,
never again to be separated.

-Author Unknown

Kind Words

Image of kirby the dog
“We feel so lucky that we could have you help us with Kirby’s cremation.

Your staff is wonderful. Thank you.”

Tammy & Bill Williams

If we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us.