sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Pet Loss Is Complicated! 3 Overwhelming Emotions We Feel and How to Deal with Them

By Wendy Van de Poll August 19, 2023 Family

Dealing with complicated pet loss grief is very challenging to a pet lover. Have you ever experienced the loss of a pet that ran away? Did this pet ever come home? Are you suffering from the pain of not knowing what happened to them?

This type of pet loss grief is called complicated pet loss grief. It’s where a traumatic loss event is unresolved or has an incomplete ending.

Complicated pet loss grief has many elements but the most difficult one to ‘solve’ is finding closure.

More About Complicated Pet Loss Grief

With runaway situations, incomplete endings and finding closure leaves us wondering what has happened to our companion if they do not return to our homes and hearts.

Complicated pet loss grief is tough because you can rarely get to the point of truth. Your grief emotions will begin to surface and may impact your life consciously or unconsciously. At this time, guilt may lead to anxiety and even panic.

Please remember that you didn’t plan for your pet to run away and disappear. Accidents, such as leaving the backyard gate open or forgetting to lock the doggo door, happen.

Sharing Joanne’s Story

I recently got a call from a woman whose dog disappeared from her yard. Her story was heart wrenching as she described her loss.

She shared with me how she let her dog out for his evening activities like she always did. When she checked on him 10 minutes later, she noticed that the gate was open and he was gone.

As she continued sharing her story with me, her feelings of guilt for not remembering to close the gate were massive. She was trying to find closure with her loss.

Top 3 Emotions of Complicated Pet Loss Grief


One of the most common and powerful of grief emotions is guilt. It punishes us and leaves us feeling negative. It also leads to anxiety and panic as we place blame on ourselves.

Even though guilt is a normal feeling, it can create chaos and become unhealthy. If you are feeling guilty, keep in mind this is a normal part of grief. Just be mindful if you become overwhelmed and unable to meet your daily needs.

If this happens, your complicated pet loss grief has become abnormal, so please contact your healthcare provider.


I have found that crying, sadness and even anger in regards to complicated pet loss grief is common and normal as well.

This is part of the grieving process and it’s important to allow yourself to go through it. Grieving is very hard work, especially when there is no closure.

Being Overwhelmed

Grief cannot be rushed, and it may seem endless to you right now. This alone can easily overwhelm you.

Be mindful of what you are going through. Take one moment at a time. Complicated pet loss grief is heart wrenching. The important thing to remember is to take care of yourself during this time.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you going through complicated pet loss grief? What are you doing to take care of yourself? Please share some tips that have helped you overcome your pet loss grief.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Author

Wendy Van de Poll is a leader in the fields of pet loss grief support and self-publishing. As a thirteen-time bestselling author, speaker and coach she works with people all over the world with their animals and writing their books! Please visit her website for pet loss or website for self-publishing

You Might Also Like