You’ve loved your dear companion for a good many years when you realize that the time to say goodbye is nearing. Losing a pet is never easy and it can help to understand how you might react and speak with others who are experiencing a similar loss.

Julie Brooks is an HBSPCA volunteer who has conducted grief counselling groups for people who have lost a pet for the past 30 years.

Her sessions are held on the second Tuesday of every month at a convenient location on the central mountain. Ample parking is available, and it is on a bus route. Group sessions typically run throughout the year and participants can join as many monthly sessions as they need. There is no fee to attend these group counselling sessions. 

Julie—who also works in bereavement for people in her private practice—says that to her, the loss of a pet can be just as impactful as the loss of a person. 

People who experience the loss of a pet can feel deep sadness, a feeling of being lost, emptiness, loneliness, disconnected, and as if they aren’t needed. For people who don’t have children, having a pet means having someone to take care of; life can feel confusing because the routine of caring for your best friend is suddenly gone. 

What does Julie recommend to help deal with the pain of losing a pet?

“Talk about it to someone who ‘gets it’. It’s not helpful to talk to people who minimize the situation. Talk to other pet lovers who can provide support and empathy for your loss.”

She says that’s why people come to a group. They may have exhausted their family and friends who don’t want to see them hurt anymore. “That’s what we do at group [sessions],” she said, “we cry and share feelings”. Participants might bring photographs, a blanket, a collar or any other sentimental item as a way to help them talk through their grief. 

People who are interested in joining the group should speak to Julie first by calling her at 905-574-5070 so she can help them decide if they are ready. Sometimes it’s too soon and they won’t be able to absorb what other members of the group have to say.

Julie and her daughter have pets of their own, of course. They recently said goodbye to two of four cats. They also have two reptiles—a leopard gecko and a bearded dragon—both of which are very affectionate pets. 

It’s been said that one of the reasons why losing a pet hurts so much is because animals love and accept us unconditionally. But it’s also because they are so much a part of our lives and our routines. 

It’s very painful when that little heart no longer beats in your household. 

The HBSPCA recommends contacting your pet’s regular veterinarian for euthanasia services if possible. If cost is an obstacle when it’s time to say goodbye to your beloved pet due to old age or illness, we are available to help. 

We offer caring, compassionate euthanasia services, click here or call 905-574-7722 for more information.