How to deal with losing your emotional support animal?

I lost my Ozzy, a Golden Retriever, after an operation to try and save him this weekend.

He helped me so much during my trauma healing and recovery from depression.

I miss him so much and don’t know how to deal with the loss and his absence.


Hi @doug

Welcome back to Heart Support.

I’m so, so sorry you’ve lost your support animal. I know how strong the bond is between someone and a ESA. They are literally family. I can’t even imagine my ESA not being here. So, my heart goes out to you.

We are often told that “time heals the soul and the pain from loss eventually subsides”. Although that may be true, it doesn’t make it any easier in the moment. Its not fair and it really, really sucks.

Right now it’s very important that you practice self care and there is a formula for grieving and healing that I will share with you. It’s called T.R.E.A.S.U.R.E and it’s just a guide to help you heal while honoring the memory of your therapy animal. I hope this helps.

  • Take time to care for yourself. Do what you need to help yourself on your journey of healing.
  • Reflect. Take time to reflect upon the loss and the significance of your animal. You might consider writing your memories out, completing a memory scrapbook, drawing. or using creative arts to express your sentiments.
  • Exercise. Walk, bike, hike—revitalize your body and soul. This is especially important if exercising with your animal was a normal part of your daily routine. Continue engaging in exercises you loved with your animal in their memory.
  • Accept. You may find yourself going through many emotional stages of loss. It is an emotional journey whose endpoint is acceptance.
  • Support. Find a source of support. You may find comfort in talking with other therapy animal handlers and friends who have experienced l loss. Finding a support group on pet loss is another healthy option.
  • Uplift. Find ways that help you uplift and “feed your soul.” The process may begin with opening up about your feelings of loss.
  • Reminisce. Reminiscing with others can be very comforting. Healing includes remembering good times and putting into perspective the importance of your animal’s l life.
  • Express. The key ingredient to healing is to be able to express yourself.
    You need to give yourself permission to share your emotions.

:hrtlegolove: :hrtlegolove:

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So brutal to feel like you have lost a piece of you - especially connected to such a beautiful season of your life. To have felt so known by this animal, so unconditionally loved and supported - the hole with its loss is gaping…

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From: Microsmos

Hey friend. I’m so sorry for your loss. Ozzy must have been such a huge part of your life, of your heart. There really is no word to describe the emptiness that losses create, especially when it’s about pals that have been so supportive to us. Please give your time all the time you will need in times to come. All emotions that you feel are valid and okay to experience. Ozzy is still going to live through you and through the resilience he’s been helpin you build. We’re here for you through it all, friend. You’re not alone and we will always listen if you need to share how you feel. I bet you have beautiful memories with him too. I’d love to hear about it, if you’d like to share. <3

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From: ManekiNeko

hi Doug, I’m so incredibly sorry for you loss. Losing an animal is like losing a best friend.
When I lost my cat, I was so distraught. I felt numb and I felt all this guilt and sadness. Grieving for a pet that has been so close to you and the source of so much comfort is so natural and it’s important to let yourself feel that grief.

one thing I did that helped me feel better is planting some forget me nots. My friend actually gave me a card for my loss and you could plant the card and it had seeds in it. Now when I see the beautiful flowers there it makes me happy that something so beautiful is a memory of her.
Not everyone heals the same way, I know adopting another little baby was my way of healing, but understandably some people find that hard.
I’m so glad he had someone who loved him as much as you did in his life.

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