Loss of your pet can leave a hole in your heart. Get support by reading, watching and listening to friends who care.

Open to Hope Radio


  • David Meagher: Children and Pet Loss

    December 7, 2016

    How can you help children address pet loss? David Meagher, a professor emeritus at The City University of New York, explains that pets genuinely become part of a family. The grief many feel for their pets is on par with grief they may feel for a close family member. Dr. Gloria Horsley of the Open […]

  • Deborah Antinori: Pet Loss

    July 10, 2016

    Registered nurse and licensed professional counselor Deborah Antinori joins Dr. Heidi Horsley to talk about pet loss, one of the most disenfranchised losses. She’s also a drama therapist and grief counselor. There are practical and emotional issues surrounding pet loss. When you lose a pet, it’s similar to any other kind of loss. Sadness, tearfulness, […]

  • Remembering Izzy

    September 30, 2015

    It was a baby rat. Recently, after years of contemplating the possibility, I obtained two adult rats as pets. They were potentially to be used as live examples in the psychology classes I taught, and in a fun way—treats all around! A day after I received the rats, the previous owner informed me that one […]

  • Cori Bussolari and Wendy Packman: Pet Loss

    July 26, 2015

    A professor at the University of San Francisco, Dr. Cori Bussolari, and a professor at Palo Alto University, Dr. Wendy Packman, recently spoke with Dr. Heidi Horsley during the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling about the grief process that follows the loss of a pet. Having just completed a study on pet loss […]

  • Helping Kids Cope with the Death of a Pet

    February 28, 2014

    All too often, pet death is discounted as not important, and those undermining words, “We’ll get you another one,” are offered as a hollow consolation. They diminish the love the child has for their pet, whether it is a goldfish, a hamster, a dog, a cat or a horse. The death of a pet can […]

  • Condolence Letter on the Death of a Pet

    September 24, 2013

    I have watched people go through loss of a loved pet and can see how hard it is to say goodbye to those four-legged members of our families. Having seen friends through this heartbreak of having had to say goodbye to the very family member who loved constantly and without question, kept their children safe, […]

  • A Forever Decision, Part 9

    December 5, 2012

    My Uncle Steve turned 94 yesterday. I’m very happy that he’s still with us, and very proud that he has reached such an advanced old age. We tried to bring him home from the rehabilitation center last week, but the hospice worker recommended some accommodations to the house that had to be fulfilled before he […]

  • A Forever Decision, Part 8

    December 1, 2012

    I feel very anxious today, more anxious than I have been since I found out that my uncle has terminal cancer. He has been in a rehabilitation center for a month to work on strengthening his muscles and coordination. He was supposed to come home today.  I visited him for four days in the center. […]

  • A Forever Decision, Part 7

    November 4, 2012

    It has been a week since I found out that my Uncle Steve has terminal cancer. I’ve felt sick to my stomach. I’ve felt calm. I’ve felt trapped. I’ve felt hopeful. I try to think about how I’ll feel without him in my life. I wonder what his life will be like until the end. […]

  • A Forever Decision, Part 6

    October 30, 2012

    There are certain beings in this life that I love more than anyone else. They are: my dogs Isabella and Camilla, my boyfriend Walter, and my Uncle Steve. I lost Cami due to a brain tumor seven weeks ago. I have struggled to keep on top of my emotions – and by that, I mean […]

  • A Forever Decision, Part 5

    October 16, 2012

    A Forever Decision, Part 5 I am beginning to remember things about my daily life with my dog, Camilla, that give me pleasure. When she lost her sight, I would walk her up and down the straight sidewalk in front of our house. When we came to a step, I would say, “Step,” and stop […]

  • A Forever Decision, Part 4

    October 8, 2012

    It has been a month since I lost my beloved Camilla due to a brain tumor. Today I felt desolate. Tears sprang into my eyes when I thought of what we went through a month ago. The grief was fresh enough to constrict my throat and blur my vision. I’ve been experiencing grief in waves, […]

  • A Forever Decision: Part 3

    September 20, 2012

    On Day 9 after the loss of my beloved Camilla due to a brain tumor, I think it’s important to start the day with love. Whether it’s petting my remaining dog Isabella, or sending love letters to my boyfriend, I feel better when I start the day with something that will last. Because any love […]

  • A Forever Decision: Part Two

    September 20, 2012

    My relief is giving way to anxiety and the inability to concentrate. On the sixth day after I put my beloved Camilla to sleep after a long illness, I wake up refreshed, but that feeling soon gives way to dread. Thoughts of Cami keep intruding. Why wasn’t I able to save her? What did I […]

  • A Forever Decision: Letting Go of a Dog

    September 20, 2012

    I’m starting to realize that she is not coming back. Five days ago, I put my beloved dog Camilla to sleep. She had a tumor on her pituitary gland and she was experiencing debilitating symptoms. It was best to end her suffering. It was a forever decision. The first day, I felt relieved. I had […]

  • Pet Cremation Mistake: Breaking the Bad News

    March 27, 2012

    Question from a reader: I wonder if you could give me some advice. Recently our pet cat died and we decided to have her cremated so the ashes could be scattered in our garden. I have just learned from our vet who sent the cat to the crematorium that accidently our cat was not labeled […]

  • Continuing Connection with a Pet that Has Died

    January 18, 2012

    “Death ends a life – it does not end a relationship.” — (Anderson, 1974) When one suffers the loss of a dear, beloved animal companion, it is a profound loss and a heart-wrenching experience: “I feel like a part of me died with her. I feel a deep emptiness inside that is physically painful (bereaved […]

  • Did My Cat Go to Heaven?

    October 1, 2011

    Question from a reader:  I have been grieving the loss of my cat for some time now, and the pain does not go away. I am still very sad and wondering what kind of help you can give me.  I keep thinking—did my Mittens go to heaven or not?  I had a very tight bond […]

  • Falling in Love Again after Pet-Loss

    April 15, 2011

    My beloved first golden retriever died in July 2005, The anticipated and then excruciating pain of his loss lingered for months on end, tears flowed uncontrollably and a growing yearning for that furry connection permeated my soul. I swore to never get another dog again, as I couldn’t tolerate yet another heart wrenching “letting go.” […]

  • Grief Following the Loss of a Beloved Pet

    March 9, 2011

    The Pain of Loss “This is the most terrible pain I have ever had and I feel like I will never be the same person I was before my pet passed.  It felt like someone ripped my heart out of my chest when he died and a scream came out of me that was from […]

  • When Animal Friends Die

    January 21, 2011

    They say cats have nine lives. I wish that were true, but the facts contradict such myths. Everything dies, including the felines, dogs and other creatures we choose to care for and have in our lives. Most animals tend to have a shorter life-span than humans, thereby increasing the chances that our beloved friend will […]

  • Pet Loss Can Devastate

    June 6, 2010

    Although a common thread connects the stages of grief, the journey of sorrow materializes differently for each person who trudges through it.  From overwhelming emotion, timeless pain and isolation to frozen reality or numbness, self-destruction and complete denial, grief is customized to each individual. It is also very real and may be devastating when you […]

  • Animal-Human Connection Lives on After Death

    March 21, 2010

    I am a cat-lover, I will admit it.  Growing up, I had cats here and there, but my dad was really intolerant of the normal pet things like fleas and “accidents” on the carpets, so I never had a cat for very long.  I had one kitten for four days; then he discovered it had […]

  • Pets, Grief and the ‘Bootsy and Angel Effect’

    March 6, 2010

    Many in our society do not recognize the impact that pet loss has on an individual. For many people, the loss of a beloved pet may be the first significant loss that is experienced in life. Pets see us through many significant milestones in life such as marriages, divorces, death and the birth of our […]

  • Poem: Holly Jolly – My Chihuahua

    March 4, 2010

    You were a tiny little angel Sent to me from the heavens above. You were a soft and cuddly ball of fur Filling my life with unconditional love. My Precious – Holly Jolly. Peanut and Gunner are not the same Missing you more with each passing day. They look around and go to the back […]

  • Daughter Wants to Help Mom after Death of Beloved Dog

    February 11, 2010

    Question from a reader: I am writing in hopes that you may be able to provide advice or support that I can give my parents who just had to euthanize their 12-year-old Golden Lab, Baxter.  He had to be put to sleep because he could not walk anymore.  It was a very sad event for the […]

  • How to Help a Child Cope With Pet-Loss

    January 7, 2010

    Five-year-old Greg was sad. His pet gerbil, Jasper, had died. Jasper was lying in the cage very still. Greg started screaming and crying and Mom ran into the room to see what happened. “Something is wrong with Jasper. He isn’t moving. I’m scared.” Mom had a tear in her eye. “Jasper died, sweetie.” Greg put […]

  • Compassionate Self-Forgiveness (Part 1)

    October 18, 2009

    I was reflecting today on my dog Ringo, who died after being hit by a car when I was fifteen. As I ran to his side, he acknowledged my presence with one last wag of his tail. I was devastated. I blamed myself for his death. I also blamed my mom, who was at work. […]

  • Dad Troubled by Accidental Death of Son’s Kitten

    September 21, 2009

    By – Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC Question from a reader: I received a phone call last night from my frantic wife with my 13-year-old son screaming and crying in the background. He put the recliner chair down and it crushed his 12-week-old kitten. She died on the way to the vet’s . . . […]

  • Death of Dog Compared to Child’s Death

    August 18, 2009

    Not long ago I was listening to the Today Show and Jill Rappaport was interviewing a woman who had lost her dog. This woman compared the loss of her dog as equal to the loss of a family member. As much as I loved the two dogs I owned in my lifetime for 15 years each, there […]

  • Helping Grandchildren with Pet Loss

    June 26, 2009

    By – Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC Question: I very sadly had to euthanize my wonderful dog of 8 years last night.  She has been with me with so many other losses and helped me through.  Now here I am and at a loss without her. I am having a terrible time but am […]

  • Common Myths and Misconceptions about the Loss of a Cherished Pet

    June 26, 2009

    by – Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT COMMON MYTHS ABOUT THE LOSS OF PETS: There is nothing special about the relationship between animals and humans. Your relationship with a companion animal can be just as special and loving as those you have with any other family member or close friend. Loving an animal is different from […]

  • Cat is Missing 54 Days and Counting

    June 24, 2009

    Betty writes in: There is so little information to be found on how to deal with the loss of a pet…not death…worse, their being lost and not knowing where they are or if they are scared or hurt or dead. It is true that if you just knew what happened to them, the healling could […]

  • Telling a Child About Two Deaths in One Day

    June 22, 2009

    By Pamela Gabbay, M.A., FT — My mind was simultaneously racing around in circles and dull as a knife. She’s only four… four. I could not fathom how I was going to tell my four-year-old daughter that her beloved grandmother, my mom, had just died. Her grandmother, who called her “my little Meg,” and lovingly […]

  • Children React Differently When A Pet Dies, Based on Their Age

    May 4, 2009

    By – Colleen Mihelich Many factors can contribute to how a child will feel when their pet dies. The child’s age and maturity are important factors. As with older people, the relationship the child had with the pet, the circumstances of the pet’s death, and other events or losses the child has experienced will influence […]

  • When Your Companion Animal is Missing

    May 4, 2009

    By Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC As a hospice bereavement counselor who also specializes in pet loss, I’ve encountered in my support groups and through my websites many distraught animal lovers whose beloved dogs or cats have gone missing. These animals may have escaped from their home or yard, run off while traveling with their owners, […]

  • A Spiritual Connection To Our Pet Companions

    March 2, 2009

    Picture the humorous sight of a Golden Retriever with short, little Corgi legs and you have a glimpse of our precious Tucker, who died February 21, 2009 at age 16 1/2. Tucker was truly a ray of sunshine in our lives. She was always there to greet us at the door with her big brown […]

  • Dog Returns in a Dream and Comforts Owner

    January 16, 2009

    By Luellen Hoffman — Recently while doing research for my book, Special Dream, I asked people if they ever had someone close to them die and then appear to them in an unusual dream. Over three hundred people responded and out of that group, five people wrote to tell me their dog had died and […]

  • Continuing Connections: Mourning the Death of Your Pet

    December 18, 2008

    By Cori Bussolari —

  • My Dog, Tally, Died

    March 12, 2007

    By Dr. Gloria Horsley I was on my way to work on Friday when my son-in-law called to say the family dog, Tally, was hit and killed while chasing a squirrel across a busy highway. My son-in-law said he and my four grand-children needed me. I turned the car around and went back to the […]

Open to Hope TV

  • Episode 30: Pet Loss

    February 12, 2014

    On This show Dr. Gloria Horsley; and Dr. Heidi Horsley discuss the death of a pet with pet loss experts Bonnie Goodman and Dr. Betty J. Carmack, R.N., Ed.D. Betty is a researcher and author of “Grieving the Death of a Pet”. Bonnie is a certified Thanatologist and grief Counselor. The show closes with music […]

  • David Meagher and Dr Gloria Horsley-Children and Pet Loss

    December 24, 2010

    David Meagher and Dr Gloria Horsley talk about helping children cope with pet loss.

  • Deborah Antinori: Pet Loss

    April 1, 2009

    Deborah Antinori and Dr Heidi Horsley discuss Pet Loss.

  • In My Mother’s Kitchen: An Introduction to the Healing Power of Reminiscence

    October 28, 2010

    Robin Edgar’s book, In My Mother’s Kitchen: An Introduction to the Healing Power of Reminiscence, illustrates how to recall and record memories of your loved ones in order to develop rituals that celebrate the times you had with them. This inexpensive paperback  is available at amazon.com.