Grieving a Pet

Grief over the loss of a pet is real. On background of a dog and her owner overlooking the pond. Quote from Guy Winch

Hal Anderson on 680 CJOB has a show 1-4. Carolyn Klassen speaks weekly from 2:30-3 on Thursdays.

Yesterday, during my weekly chat with Hal on 680CJOB, we talked about how real the impact of the death of a pet can be.  As you’ll hear on the recording, one of the guys in the news room pooh-poohed the idea that the death of an animal is actually the death of a family member.

We talked about the importance of validating grief as grief. Grief is best responded to with empathy.

Empathy is not: “How would I feel in your shoes?” but rather, “How do you actually feel in your shoes?”

It means leaving judgement out, and curiosity firmly in the conversation.

  • How I might feel about a broken pinky finger as someone who listens for a living would be very different than a concert pianist with the same broken pinky finger.
  • How you might feel about losing $100 out of your wallet would be very different than a person on the verge of bankruptcy, or another who just won the lottery, or any other number of people.
  • How the death of a pet affects one is completely different than another.

The conversation:


Then Hal went to commercial…and told me about the death of his dog.  He and his wife loved this aged puppy, and when it was time, the vet came over to their house to help. He wept as he described the image of this dog in the lap of his wife–weeping over her sorrow as well as his own.

This isn’t just an intellectual conversation for him…and perhaps not for you too.

Grief is the price we pay for love

Give yourself permission to grieve over that which you have lost, even if others don’t understand? Know that when you are sad, you get to be sad.  Seek support from those who can love you in the grief, and through the grief.



  • Kevin Ringstaff

    Thanks for sharing your important feelings
    Pet loss is one of the most painful experiences we can face. Not only have we lost our companion and friend, but often times we also lose the only constantly positive support and comfort we have in our lives.

    Kevin Ringstaff

    • Carolyn Klassen

      Kevin…One of the unique tough parts of the loss of a supportive person/pet is that the pet/person isn’t there to be the support through that loss. When a person loses their job, or their wallet, or has their car stole, or a co-worker retires (or dies) the support person/pet is there, being with you in the loss!

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