When Does Pet Loss Grief Become a Problem?

Grieving is a healthy and unavoidable reaction to loss.

12 months is considered the “limit” for normal grieving; however, one size does not fit all. When the loss of your pet turns a corner, and you begin to experience other, more intense forms of grief, then you may be experiencing abnormal grief.

When the symptoms of grief become debilitating, normal grief may become “complicated grief,” where individuals may suffer from both posttraumatic stress disorder and depression.

Some indicators of problematic grief and loss include:

  • Grief lasting longer than 12 months
  • Constant yearning, preoccupation, or fixation for the loss of the pet
  • Difficulty accepting the loss
  • Disbelief
  • Distressing memories
  • Anger
  • Self-blame for the loss
  • In the case of death, the desire to die to be with the animal
  • A sense of detachment from others
  • A belief that it’s impossible to function without the pet
  • Difficulty planning for the future
  • Extremely distressing anxiety or depression