This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Praxis KaWa

Mourning and death are unpleasant topics that are rather taboo in our society. Even if the topics dying, death and mourning evoke a feeling of powerlessness in us, it is still important to deal with them instead of repressing them. Dealing with dying and grieving is often associated with horror and anxiety. But grief is a natural response to loss and should not be seen as an illness. It is more of a healing process of which one doesn’t have to be afraid. Mourning helps us to process the loss of a loved one or animal and to accept it in our life world, in order to finally emerge strengthened from this exceptional situation.

Grief is not a triviality

The loss is always felt subjectively and varies in its degree. Pain and suffering of loss and separation (e.g. divorce from partner or disappearance of an animal friend) are perceived very similarly. To be able to process and cope with grief well, it takes time and space. This applies to humans as well as to animals. Animals also mourn for their loved ones, only they show their grief in a different way.

Valves for pain

Above all shouting, crying, lamenting – nomatter at which volume level  – are important valves for mourning. In our western culture, public expressions of grief and emotional outbursts do not correspond to the social norm. Nevertheless it is important to give these feelings space and expression. Often it is helpful to look for a certain “place of mourning” where one can let one’s feelings run free. Maybe in the shower, where tears and bad thoughts can be “washed away” at the same time, or outside in a quiet favorite place.

It is completely normal to be overrun again and again by phases of deep sadness. But in between there are also times with beautiful memories and positive feelings. When the sadness overtakes you, you should consciously pay attention to your breathing. We often unconsciously hold our breath in stressful situations. Concentrate on the breathing movements of your body and pay attention for a few minutes only to your inhalation and exhalation without evaluating or changing them. (Where in the body is it particularly easy to perceive? How is the breath? Short, stumbling, shaky, long, calm, shallow, deep, …) It is also helpful to stand firmly on the ground with both legs and look for a secure hold in the ground like a tree.

Tips for coping with grief

  • Look for people and animals in your environment who take your grief seriously.
  • Take as much time to mourn as you need and don’t put yourself under pressure to “behave” again soon.
  • Talk about your pain, but also about the many beautiful memories of your treasure.
  • Allow the unpleasant feelings and do not swallow your grief. Find a reasonable outlet for your pain.
  • If you feel stuck in sad thoughts, give your body a conscious stop signal to “come down” from the head .
  • Do not numb your grief by searching for a new companion too quickly.
  • Do not suppress the thought of your beloved fur nose, nobody wants to be forgotten.
  • Individually designed mourning rituals (e.g. funeral ceremony, memorial book, wearing symbols of mourning) can help you to cope better with the loss. 

Animals mourn for their loved ones too

Like humans, animals also mourn for a lost friend. The process of mourning and its duration are very different also with animals. They experience the loss of their companion alike as painful and go through different stages of grief. Therefore it is important that consideration is showed also to the four-legged surviving dependants of a deceased friend.

  • Give your treasure the opportunity to say goodbye in peace and let him (if possible) sniff the corpse.
  • In case of euthanasia, take the partner animal to the vet so that he can accompany his friend on his last walk.
  • If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior, such as withdrawal, reduced appetite, restlessness or aggression, ask your veterinarian for advice.
  • Do not try to transfer the characteristics of the deceased to the partner animal. Even though you miss the cuddling with your lost darling, you should not burden his surviving animal partner with the role of the new cuddly toy against his character.
  • Do not confuse your pet by giving him a new partner too quickly. Try to interpret his behavior and give him enough time for the grief work.
katze traurig


The mourning for a loved one is a natural, but also painful process that humans as well as animals go through. This healing process is very individual and takes different lengths of time. In the process of coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, time is the most important ally. That is why people and animals in mourning need a lot of support and patience in this difficult phase. The intensity of the waves of mourning diminishes over the weeks and months, so that the intimate love and connection to the deceased animal comes back to the fore. Then you can enjoy the beautiful memories of your darling again and think back with love and joy.