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Pet Loss Support

Veterinary Social Worker
Our veterinary social worker is an active member of the veterinary medical team, offering support for clients, caregivers, and employees in times of need. 
Erin Schlicher, LCPC, VSW (Veterinary Social Worker)
(207)766-8880 (call or text) 

Pet Loss Support

Our heart goes out to you during this time of grief and loss. We understand the power of the human-animal bond and that things may feel very heavy right now. Many of us have gone through this hard time and while we can’t carry the load for you we can try to make it a little easier by offering support.

The most important things you can do for yourself and your family during this time: 

  • Go through the emotions you are feeling.
  • Take your time; there is no timeline for grief.
  • Take time to remember your pet. Consider making a little memorial.
  • Connect with friends/family who understand and support the loss of a pet.
  • Find things to fill your time and that replenish you, such as taking a walk or reading a book.

Anticipatory Pet Grief 

Anticipatory grief is common among pet owners who know that their pets’ lives are coming to an end due to age, terminal illnesses, or other health issues. Many of us have experienced this type of grief but didn’t know it had a name.

Anticipatory grief mimics conventional grief in many ways — feelings of anxiety, anger, denial, dread, sadness, isolation, and guilt. The key difference is feeling all this before your pet has passed away, but you know that death is imminent.

Ways to support yourself during this time:

  • Accept that this is a normal reaction and recognize your (and other family member’s) emotions.
  • Practice self-care. During this time, you may be caring for an aging pet with increased medical needs. It is important to recognize the signs of caregiver burnout
  • Seek support through pet groups or family/friends 
  • Communicate with your veterinarian and care team 


  • “The Invisible Leash” By Patrice Karst 
  • “The Goodbye Book” By Todd Par 
  • “Paw Prints in the Stars: A Farewell and Journal for a Beloved Pet” By Warren Hanson
  • “The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise” By Adrian Raeside 


      • The Pet Loss Support Page – Grief Articles; remembrance gifts; online memorials and services; how to help children cope with loss
      • Pet Loss Grief Support – The Rainbow Bridge story; Monday Pet Loss Candle Ceremony; message board, chat room; add pet’s name to list for tributes; poetry and music in memory of pets
      • The University of Tennessee Center for Veterinary Social Work  – University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work website with information about upcoming pet loss support groups and other events, as well as a link to the Pet Loss Support Facebook page.


      • Allen, M.A. “Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet” (2015)
      • Carmack, B. “Grieving the Loss of a Pet” (2013).
      • Fontaine, A. “Ocho Loved Flowers” (2007)
      • Harris, J.A. “Pet Loss: A Spiritual Guide” (2002)
      • Holt, P.R. “All My Children Wear Fur Coats” (2002)
      • Hunt, L.E. “Angel Pawprints: Reflections on Loving and Losing a Canine Companion (2000)
      • Rylant, C. “Cat Heaven (and Dog Heaven)”
      • Palmer, D.P. “I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand: A Child’s Guide to Grief and Loss” (1994)
      • Trotsky, R. “Goodbye Little Dude”
      • Stillwell, E.E. “A Forever Angel” (2001)
      • Wallace, S. “The Loss of a Pet” (2014)