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Coping with the loss of a pet

When your pet dies, it can feel very lonely.. Most people don't understand the depth of grieving you will go through when loosing your dog...

Weeks after Maria Sandomenico’s Chihuahua, Luigi, died last August, she shared a long post in a Facebook group for residents of the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn about how she was struggling to come to terms with her adopted rescue dog’s passing.

In an interview in January, Ms. Sandomenico said that in the seven years she had lived with Luigi, he had become her “north star,” trotting by her side in various custom-made clothes she had bought him. A pink and black pompom hat was his signature look, though he was also known to wear cashmere.

Luigi, Brooklyn's finest Chi

Ms. Sandomenico said she turned to Facebook when Luigi died because she didn’t want to burden her friends with her feelings, and because she craved connection with others who had experienced the death of a pet. She was surprised by how many people responded to her post saying they were also grieving the loss of an animal companion and didn’t know where to find support.

Luigi, loved by everyone who met him

Not long after she posted in the Facebook group, Ms. Sandomenico, 53, who runs a dog walking and training business, met with several of its members at a local bar. She had invited them there for an informal grief-processing session. “Within like 20 minutes, everybody was breaking down in front of everybody,” she said. “They all have these really different experiences, except we all had the same, you know, feelings of just feeling like nobody understands.”

She described the meeting as cathartic. It “made me feel like I wasn’t freaking crazy,” said Ms. Sandomenico, who has a silver necklace with a picture of Luigi. She has since hosted another gathering and has plans to host them regularly.

Luigi, a Chi with Style

If someone has never experienced this kind of relationship, they genuinely don’t know how important it is to those of us who have.”

Memorializing Your Dog

In addition to seeking support while grieving a pet, there are easy ways you can honor your beloved dog’s memory:

  • Commemorate their life: One of the best ways to find closure is to hold a memorial service. Whether you choose to bury your dog or scatter his ashes in a place that holds special meaning, a memorial service gives you and your family the chance to say goodbye. Some people also find cremation jewelry to be meaningful.

  • Create a legacy: Plant a tree or flowers in your dog’s favorite spot. Name a star in their honor, or create a shadow box with their favorite items. Have a portrait painted, place a memorial stone in your garden, or get creative with your dog’s photographs by making a scrapbook.

  • Start new traditions: On your dog’s birthday, acknowledge their life by volunteering at a local shelter or donate to an animal charity in his name, Aug. 28 marks Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, so take a moment to look back on the joy, laughter, and unconditional love your pet brought to your life.

  • Professional photos: Having photographs of your dog is priceless, especially after they pass away.


 a 'Senior Dog' mom-O-Holic.

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