A friend emailed me after her much-loved dog had crossed.

“Do the other dogs miss her?” she asked.

I thought about this for awhile, because, you know, death and grieving don’t really have words. They are States of Being. And I wanted to honor those States of Being. I went to my guides for information.

I told her that at this time*, I believe that dogs live in the present moment. They are very much aware of “now.” And in her household, her other dogs could still smell Lily, but they could not see her physical presence. When I checked in on them about this, they expressed confusion. “Lily is not here, but we smell Lily.”

My friend was disappointed, because of course she was heartbroken over Lily’s death. She wanted confirmation that this loss was also felt by the other dogs in her house.

“They will be able to see Lily when she is present in spirit-form,” I told her. You’ve seen dogs and cats just stare off at something, they have a more refined set senses than we do. So for them, it is not the same emotional trauma. They understand loss, as in “not here” but they do not dwell on that.

This is a tough subject – well, death is always so, in our culture – but with pets, we really want to imprint human characteristics on them. Believe me, I do it all the time. In many ways, they are so much more advanced (spiritually) than we give them credit for.

I wanted to reassure my friend that everything and everyone was ok, (they were and so is her beloved pet in spirit), and that she shouldn’t judge her other pets’ behavior based on her very raw emotions.

  • This is my disclaimer: My beliefs are always evolving. This is what I believe now, based on my experience up to now. Someone else’s experience may be very different, so please honor everyone’s perspective.


4 thoughts on “Do pets grieve?

  1. I had two cats. When we lost one we both grieved. She would look for him. At night she would visit a picture I had of him. Sometimes she would cry. She refused to use his ‘stuff’: food bowl, seating. I had to replace it all. Eventually we found our rhythm but if his name were mentioned she would look around.


  2. Very cool. I think some do and some do not – as my friend in the post described – or perhaps she was looking for signs and missed the ones her dogs were showing. The dog she lost, she had had for many years, the two remaining dogs, were a boyfriend’s who no longer wanted them and they had been in the household for maybe a couple years. The were bonded to each other, but not to the dog who crossed. It’s just super hard when you lose a pet – in all circumstances! – and her grief was profound. Sometimes that gets in the way of seeing how others grieve. When my dad passed, my mom completely checked out of reality. At the calling hours, she insisted she didn’t know who was in the casket. I know that’s pretty extreme, but we let mom be mom and deal with it as she could. That’s a little off topic, sorry.


  3. I like your explanation. I am not sure telling people what they want to hear is always in their best interest. Being honest with yourself and compassionate under the circumstances (which you certainly were) for your friend follows a discourse of greater meaning and stimulates thoughtful ideas that may never have been examined by your friend.


    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! There’s a really fine line with this sort of work, (in my opinion) because there is so much grief with losing a pet, and because we (me included) tend to anthropomorphize our experiences with pets and with nature. I have a love/not so much love relationship with doing this work. I believe any work like this is sacred, and on the other hand, it carries big responsibilities to not mislead someone or let my ego get in the way.


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