September 06, 2023 Pets and Family

Veterinarian-Recommended Books on Pet Loss for All Ages

A dog paw with a heart on it

Veterinarian-Recommended Books on Pet Loss for All Ages

The second Sunday in September is National Pet Memorial Day, a day to remember those pets who are no longer with us in person but remain in our hearts forever. For those who have recently lost their favorite fur person, I want to take this opportunity to recommend some books that might be helpful during the grieving process.

Books on Pet Loss for Children 3-8 Years Old

The Goodbye Book is a picture book for preschoolers who might ask questions about the death of their pet. In this book, a pet fish loses his companion fish, learns to live alone and cope with the loss of his friend.

The idea of an invisible string connecting people when they are apart comes from a Chinese proverb that reads: “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.” This idea has also been popularized by Taylor Swift in a song of the same name. The Invisible Leash is another riff on this theme. In the book, the invisible leash connects Zack, the protagonist, to his beloved dog, even though Zack can no longer see or touch his dog.

Dog Heaven describes the idyllic life of dogs in heaven and is illustrated with drawings of angel children who play with the dogs and love them just like they were loved when they were on earth. This book would be very comforting to a child who might be worried that no one’s caring for their dog in the afterlife.

Books on Pet Loss for Children 8-12 Years Old

One Amazing Elephant is a novel about loss and grief featuring a child (Lily) and an elephant (Queenie Grace). The death of Lily’s grandfather, who was Queenie Grace’s trainer, brings Queenie Grace and Lily together in an unexpected friendship.

My Pet Memory Book is a workbook with 22 prompts to help a child create a memorial book for their pet. Children who do not yet read might enjoy this creative activity in memory of their pet but would need an adult to read the prompts for each memory.

Books on Pet Loss for Adults

Good Grief: On Loving Pets Here and Hereafter includes the author’s own experiences in pet loss. She also explores an inspiring array of rituals that can help those grieving over the loss of a pet.

Books on the Death of a Cat

In searching for books on pet loss, I noticed they leaned heavily towards the loss of a dog. However, both books I found on the death of a cat were winners of the Newberry Medal. The Newberry Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

All Cats Go to Heaven is written and beautifully illustrated by Cynthia Rylant, who wrote Dog Heaven. Like Dog Heaven, her book is appropriate for 3- to 8-year-old children.

The second Newberry Award winning book, The Cat Who Went to Heaven, takes place in ancient Japan. It won the Newberry Award in 1931, and some editions of the book have lovely Japanese-style illustrations. One cover features a Japanese bobtail cat, sure to catch the eye of a child missing their favorite cat.

Poetry on Pet Loss

If prose is not comforting to you, I found a lovely website with poems about the loss of a beloved pet. I will close with an excerpt from A Cat Poem by Linda Barners. Although the poem was written in memory of her cat, the words express a sentiment familiar to all pet owners who have experienced the loss of a pet.

And although time may bring new friends
and a new food dish to fill,
That one place in our hearts
belongs to them. . . and always will.

AMC will host its annual Celebration of Life on September 14th, 2023 via Zoom to remember the pets we’ve lost and the lives we shared together. The event is free, but registration is required so you can receive the Zoom link.

Tags: Books, cats, dogs, literature, pet families, pet loss, pets and children, poetry,

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