Sharing Sad News: Writing an Obituary for Your Dog

Human traditions may provide insight for processing grief when our dogs die.

By | Posted: July 9, 2014, 6 a.m. PST

senior dogIt’s never an easy thing to lose a pet and it is often hard to move past the feelings of loss and sadness. A small memorial service at home may bring comfort. Tokens from friends such as a plate of cookies on our doorstep may ease our grief. Similarly, writing an obituary may offer solace.

An obituary gives notice of death, but also provides an account of a life. With the ease of social networking as well as traditional snail mail, we can easily reach our dog-loving friends and family to share our dog’s passing.

In addition to the writing being cathartic, an obituary can be helpful to family members who are unable to express their feelings. "As the writer in my family, a tribute to my family’s dog Wally was not only a way to express and understand my feelings of what his life meant, but it helped my family to remember him in his happier, healthier times,” says DogChannel editor Samantha Meyers. "His life became documented and validated and it added a sense of closure to the loss.”

Read Sam's Tribute to Wally>>

"Writing an obituary for a beloved pet may help owners face the finality of a pet’s death,” explains Michele Pich, grief counselor with University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia.

An obituary can help validate the importance of the dog as a friend, companion, and trusted confidant. "By acknowledging these roles in an obituary, grieving owners may find solace knowing the individuality of their dog won’t be forgotten,” Pich says. "Some of the lessons learned from the dog can be shared in the obituary, and hopefully carried on throughout the owner’s life.”

When we write about our dog’s unique or humorous accomplishments, we may find ourselves smiling at the same time we’re crying, at least for a moment or two.

Please know that all dog owners struggle with end of life issues. If you do not have someone in your life who understands what you are going through, please reach out to some of the wonderful support hotlines staffed with people who can help you cope, here

There are many great ways to celebrate the life of your dog, share with us in the comments below how you have coped with the loss of beloved pet. 

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