Why is Losing a Pet so Heartbreaking?


Our Krause Funeral Home staff will be the first to say that losing a pet can be excruciating. Studies confirm that grieving the death of a dog is comparable to grieving the death of a human in almost every way. Can you relate?

In our work helping families throughout Milwaukee, Brookfield, and New Berlin plan funerals, cremations, and burials, we understand the pain people experience. This is why our team is so compassionate, and why we offer grief support during the days, months, and years following a death. We definitely understand that one of the complexities of losing a pet is that many people can’t make sense of the feelings of sadness, shock, and loneliness that often follow.

We think of when our therapy dog Oliver died back in 2011. Oliver may have belonged to Krause Funeral Home President Mark Krause, his wife, Joan, and daughter, Nicole, but Oliver’s impact extended well beyond his immediate family. He found a special niche at the funeral home and his cheerful and calming demeanor helped so many over the years. When Oliver died, we didn’t “just” lose a pet. We lost a source of unconditional love, comfort, companionship, and joy. While we were thrilled to welcome our grief therapy dog Bennie to the team, Oliver will never be forgotten.

After 80+ years working with Milwaukee-area families during some of life’s most difficult times, we have advice to offer when a loved one dies – whether that loved one is a family member, friend, or cherished pet.

A funeral is a helpful step toward healing. We see every day how the ritual of gathering together to pay tribute to a loved one can help with the grieving process. The same applies to pets. There’s something about setting aside time for a final farewell, feeling the support of others, and sharing stories and memories that cannot be replicated.

You can’t rush grief. One unique element of pet loss is that some people will try to downplay the pain. They might say, “It’s only a cat!” or “It’s only a dog!” Of course to you, your animal companion was much, much more. People grieve differently and it’s important to be patient with yourself.

Lean on others who understand for support. We can’t say enough how helpful it is to talk with others who have experienced the death of a pet. There are pet loss support groups and you can also check online message boards from the comfort of home. Many people have told us that their best sources of support following the loss of their pet came from people outside of family and friends. Don’t hesitate to reach out to find those who can relate to what you’re going through.

Experiencing death is an inevitable part of pet ownership, but it’s never easy. If you’re having a hard time and could use a listening ear, or would like to meet Bennie, reach out to us anytime. We’re here for our Milwaukee friends and neighbors in every way.

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