Pet Grief: A Conversation with Beth Bigler

interviews Mar 31, 2024

Last week, Grieve Leave founder, Rebecca Feinglos, sat down with Beth Bigler, a double-certified pet loss grief counselor, certified end-of-life animal companion doula, and pet chaplain, for an interview on the Grieve Leave Instagram. Beth shared her journey into pet grief counseling, insights into supporting others navigating the loss of their pets, and the unique challenges surrounding pet grief.

You can watch the full interview HERE and read three of our favorite takeaways below:

"All pet loss grief and particularly anticipatory, is disenfranchised…. No one's bringing you a casserole because you have anticipatory grief. You're not going to get time off work. You're not going to get sympathy cards for anticipatory grief."

The grief we experience when anticipating the loss of a pet is often minimized or brushed aside by society. This lack of recognition can make us feel isolated in our pain.


“Anytime you get that little, oh, am I doing too much, this is not a real loss, or whatever your judgmental thought is…start with some self compassion, because the minute you start diminishing how hard this is, the less you’re going to be able to receive love and compassion from others.” 

Beth added that beyond societal disenfranchisement, we often struggle with self-judgment about whether our pet loss grief or our anticipatory grief is reasonable.. We question if we're overreacting and if our pain is valid. This compounds an already difficult experience. Your grief is real and deserving of support, even if others don't validate it. Acknowledging this is an important step.


“Pet loss grief can impact people as hard or harder than their previous human losses. So respond and react with the same compassion as if it were a mother, father, brother, sister, child, even if you don't get it, show up for that grieving guardian with a deep compassion.”

This is a reminder that for many, bonds with pets are as deep as those with humans. Losing a pet can be profoundly destabilizing, reshaping daily routines, and leaving a hole where a cherished relationship once was.

When supporting someone through pet loss, the most important thing is showing up. Even if we can't relate to their bond, we can honor that they're experiencing a significant loss. We can create space for grief, offer a listening ear, and extend the support we would to anyone navigating a loved one's death.

Beth's insights remind us that pet grief is complex and often misunderstood, deserving the same compassion we extend to other significant losses. She highlights the importance of honoring our own grief, finding spaces where our pain is validated, and supporting others with empathy.

For more support and connection with others who get it, join the Grieve Leave community on Instagram. You can also connect with Beth at @honoringouranimals on Instagram or through

Looking for more personalized support after losing a beloved pet? Check out Help Texts, a service that delivers expert grief support straight to your phone. Crafted by leading grief experts and palliative care veterinarians, these affordable, comforting messages are tailored to your unique loss and available in 24 languages. Click HERE to learn more.


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