Grieving and Healing-A Journey to Understanding

Have you experienced the loss of your dog?  Have you wondered about how you can heal from the grief? Recently we have all been discussing senior pets and we have had several community members lose loved ones. We did an introduction to dealing with loss and shared poems and suggestions HERE.

This Wordless Wednesday, we would like to share some thoughts on how to deal with a pet passing over the Rainbow Bridge from author and expert Marybeth Haines.  Marybeth explains the five stages in the journey to understanding and dealing with loss below.

TH2 Rescues Rock Cognac

R.I.P. Cognac

I believe that we are all different and that everyone heals at different rates.  When it comes to dealing with loss and the time it takes, it’s important to remember that there is no one “right” way to heal.

Why are we often so hard on ourselves when it comes to “getting over” loss?

After grieving myself and seeing others who are experiencing the same, I decided to learn about the five stages of grief. How do we deal with the feelings? How do we go to work, take care of our loved ones and ourselves and get back into life? Perhaps if we understand about these stages, we can apply them to our own individual situation.


R.I.P. Poncho

Stage 1- Denial:

Denial is similar to the feeling of numbness and shock.  You know when you accidentally cut yourself or fall down and it takes you a moment to really understand what has happened? Our body has an incredible way of protecting itself – it goes into a state of shock so our nervous system does not get overwhelmed. At first, we shut out the reality and create a different reality. We can’t believe what has happened.

Stage 2- Anger:

Many times we are taught to not show our anger or keep the peace. Anger is often a misunderstood emotion. When applied at the right time in the right way, anger can assist the grief healing process. By releasing anger in talking, expressing, drawing, writing, creating we can turn this uncomfortable feeling into something positive and get some release.


R.I.P. Piper Cub

Stage 3- Bargaining:

Instead of experiencing the painful reality of losing your pet, you may find yourself making deals with God or a higher power to delay the inevitable. This stage can distract us from the pain we are experiencing. We often ask ourselves the “what if” questions during this stage.

Stage 4- Depression:

Depression may be one of the most difficult stages to deal with although all stages have their own struggles. By educating ourselves, we can shed light on this stage of depression, which can vary from mild to severe. Remember, everyone is different however, we are human and human beings are complex and deserving of nurturing and understanding.


R.I.P. Billy

Stage 5- Acceptance:

Acceptance comes after time and work however it does not always mean you are over the loss or are fully healed. You begin to deal with the loss in a different light. Even though it is dark at times, you realize there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I used to think that accepting was giving up. When I realized that there are some things that can’t be changed I decided to embrace it and somehow use it as a learning tool. By embracing the change – I actually wrote my book The Power of Pets. It’s funny how some very difficult times can turn into something that brings you confidence.

Read more on Dealing with Loss

Remember and celebrate your pet with a tribute in our In Loving Memory R.I.P. section.

Closing thought:

You may go through difficult times again and again but you get to know that you can get through and somehow, reach a place where you find peace.  I wish you peace on your journey.


Marybeth Haines is a grief consultant and educator, and the author of The Power of Pets – 7 Effective Tools To Heal From Pet Loss. Her specialized focus is providing support in pet bereavement. She holds the strong belief that pets can teach people many things about life and so can the grief associated with their death. Marybeth empowers people to make choices that promote action, personal growth and healing.

Go to her Website: for a FREE copy of her e-book.

Read Marybeth’s 3 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Our Pets HERE

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  • It’s going to be very hard … no matter how you prepare yourself. Golden Thanks for sharing.

    • Profile photo of Marybeth Haines

      Hi Golden Woofs: Sugar. Yes, I agree. This is something we are never prepared fully for, just like you said in your message. It feels good knowing that we can unite together, support one another and share the one common thing…the love of our pets. Thanks for being a part of this unity.

  • It’s one of the hardest things I’ve gone through; I’m grateful that there’s people like Marybeth Haines and posts like this. It validates the fact that pet owners go through a real grieving process. I still hear comments like ‘just a dog’ occasionally and it it’s extremely frustrating. I can only assume these types of things are said by those who haven’t shared their life with a dog. Thanks again for sharing – anyone who goes through loss needs to remember that grief does come in stages; and that they’re not alone.

    • Profile photo of Marybeth Haines

      You’ve said it beautifully Jen. Experiencing the loss of a pet is valid and real. Remembering that there are others who understand and that it’s important to keep connected to support can be an empowering tool in moving forward. Thanks for sharing.

  • Saying goodbye is the hardest part of loving a pet. I agree with the other comments that you are never truly prepared. Thank you for sharing the stages of grief that people go through.

  • Piranha Banana 3 years ago

    This is something one doesn’t even want to think about. During a recent event, I met Steve Dale and he was speaking that we all will experience and have that ‘one’ pet – be it dog or cat, etc. – that touches our lives like no other. Sure we have all pets we grieve for – each loss appears harder and unimaginable. But he says there is always ‘one’ that has a connection to you that no other one has. And when you find him, you will know it. And that one, will be the one you compare all others to. We believe it – we’ve had many, and our last special doggy was a sheltie named Captain Nemo – heartbreaking when we lost him to cancer. But Momma says I am her ‘one’ that Mr. Steve Dale referred to. I have had such impact to her, and to people in hospitals, hospice, schools, kids and everywhere I go – teaching others and learning – that I have changed her life. She has learned so much because of me, about dogs, cats, people. I have taught her more about empathy, compassion, understanding and connections to more people who need it – and how dogs can help save people’s lives and provide healing. All that from a little dog like me. So as I turned 7 this year, she worries more for me and wishes I were only two years old (past my funny furniture chewing stage).

    • Profile photo of Marybeth Haines

      Piranha Banana, first of all THANK YOU for the amazing and special work that you do to help people each and every day. I bet that in turn helps you when you see their smiles and love. A circle of giving and receiving.

      You can tell your momma that these things you give are gifts and those gifts will always remain close to your momma and you. The time you spend together is time that can never be taken away. And that is something to celebrate!

      A big hello and tail wag to you and your momma. It’s an honour to connect with you.

  • It is so hard to lose a pet. I lost my ‘heart dog’ a few years ago and it was very hard to get to the point of remembering her with more smiles than tears. For me, it helped to have an outlet for my grief – I worked on a scrapbook about my girl, and my blog was a great way to write and deal with everything.

    • Profile photo of Marybeth Haines

      Hi Jackie, scrapbooking and blogging are great ways to express and heal. The time you spent together with you sweet ‘heart dog’ is something that will be with you always. Like a gift from your dog to you, a gift that remains forever. Thanks so much for sharing and as I light a candle today in memory of all of our pets, the flame burns so brightly signifying the wonderful connections shared. Thanks for being a part of this.

  • I went straight to 4, I could not deny it happened, Dash was dead, I could not bargain – he had been killed. Anger – yeah if I ever saw the dogs that killed him I’d kill them – they took my life from me. Depression – sure, its not as bad as it was but my life is changed now and not for the better. Acceptance – unlikely – I will never forgive or forget although life goes on and thanks to my social media friends and the work we do through our blog life is getting better.

    BTW I dislike your Catpcha (with respect) the figures were not easy to read and if I had not copied my text (having lost it once already) – I would have given up.

    • Marjorie, thanks for sharing your message. I hear your words clearly. I’m glad that you have found friends through social media and your blog work in supporting this healing journey. Please know that we stand beside you with support.

  • Those are the most difficult steps that we ever have to take. It is a personal journey for everyone.

    • Profile photo of Marybeth Haines

      Yes, thanks for sharing M.K. about it being a personal journey for everyone. Healing is unique and there is not one right way to do so. Doing it the best way that is best for you is important. Thanks for your message.

  • Losing a dog is a really hard thing to deal with. We just recently lost Damien. Damien was our 14 year old hound that we named our dog toy company after. So that loss was really hard to deal with. But the other stage that should be part of this process is celebrating the life of your pet. Celebrate the great times you hand together and all that your family gained from their life.

    • Profile photo of Marybeth Haines

      Hi Mark, yes! You shared some great words here. Celebrating Damien’s life and the great times shared together. When you think of Damien and they way he made your laugh or smile, the wonderful gifts he shared and still shares forward in memory….that is something to celebrate.

  • Understanding the grieving process helps us to put things in perspective and overcome feelings of hopelessness when trying to heal from the loss of a beloved pet. Nice article.

  • Thank you for sharing and hopefully mom will be prepared, she’s dealt with the loss of several pets but none as close as she’s been with me. Love Dolly

    • Profile photo of Marybeth Haines

      Hi Dolly, thanks for your message. Today, remind your mom of your many gifts you give to her every day and how those gifts will forever remain. The next time you look up at her and smile, that can be your message to her in letting her know. Your time together is full of love and celebration. Thank you for being such a wonderful gift to your mom and tell her we are all here for her as we unite together. Thanks for your message. It’s so great to connect with you.

  • My pain is real, it doesn’t seem to go away, and 4 out of 5 stages just rotate in a circle like a ferris wheel – guaranteed to come back around again. I’m told this will get better, really? when? I’m trying to get out of this rabbit hole, it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.

    • Profile photo of Marybeth Haines

      Thank you for reaching out with your message. I hear you when you say that 4 out of 5 stages rotate in a circle like a ferris wheel. Healing is definitely a process and one that can take more time than we would like.

      A lady that I once met said to me “Healing is like a snowflake. All healing is unique”.

      Your healing is also unique and although we cannot take the pain you feel away, we can stand beside you to let you know that you are not alone. When we unite together, we can with each other and carry forward with empowerment.

      If you feel this resonates with you, there are healing tools and a free downloadable copy of my book on my website if you wish to receive. There is no obligations nor anything to buy. My gift to you in support of your healing journey.

      Thinking of you and sending you warm thoughts. I also welcome you to reach out at any time you wish if you feel it will be helpful to you.

  • I agree, it is hard to deal with no matter what you do, and those stages definitely ring true.,
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    • Thanks for your message and husky hugz too Jenna.Mark. It’s wonderful to connect together with you. Please give your husky’s a loving scratch under the chin from all of us