Recommended Reading

There have been countless books published about the topics of pet loss and grief.  It can be difficult to sort through all the choices to find the one that best suits your needs and interests.  Here are some of our favorites.

Feature

Saying Goodbye To The Pet You Love: A Complete Resource To Help You Heal by Lorri A. Greene, Ph.D. and Jacquelyn Landis. (New Harbinger Publications, 2002)
This book is a thorough resource. It addresses vital themes in the grief process, providing education, self-assessment tests, and strategies for working with specific challenges that are part of grieving.
Why we recommend this book:  The authors first discuss just why animals are so important to people, helping us to understand the nature of our bond with animals and therefore why losing them can be especially traumatic. It includes descriptions and real-life examples of the different types of bonds that exist, as well as a self-test that will help readers determine precisely what kind of bond they have with their animals. The book is primarily about loss and grief and will help readers assess their own personal behaviors and responses to grief, while also providing strategies for working with those. Gaining that insight and awareness can be pivotal in supporting grievers through their experience. Some topics the book addresses are: attachment/bond, guilt, anger, depression, post traumatic stress, supporting children, euthanasia history and decision-making, quality of life, memorialization.

Books for Children

Local Authors

The Dragonfly Door by John Adams. (Feather Rock Books, Inc. 2007)
Two insect friends, water nymphs Lea and Nym, play together in the marsh. While sleeping, Nym discovers that her friend Lea has died and gone to a new world as a dragonfly.
Why we recommend this book: This book is written by a local MN author.  It is a beautiful allegory for death and is very gently told. It offers an optimistic concept of where the deceased “goes” after death. The book’s website also contains detailed lesson plans for presenting to elementary age children and plans for how to do a theatrical presentation.

Other Books for Children

Sammy in the Sky by Barbara Walsh, illustrated by Jamie Wyeth (Candlewick Press, 2011)
“Sammy, the best hound dog in the whole wide world, loves his girls and she loves him”. Sammy in the Sky is a beautiful book about more than just goodbyes, but also of celebrating love and memories. The author captures the dynamic sorrows and joys of having an animal companion in a way that touches hearts of all ages.
Why we recommend this book:  We like this book because it offers a gentle story of loss and memorializing that can be used as a conversation-starter for families with young children.

Saying Goodbye to Your Pet: Children Can Learn to Cope with Pet Loss by Marge Eaton Heegaard (Fairview Press Minneapolis, 2001)
Simple text and blank spaces in which to add drawings, teach children how to cope with the loss of a pet, including how to express their grief. Included are parental instructions for how to use the book and an educational background about grief and loss as it relates to children.
Why we recommend this book:  We like this book because artistic expression encourages communication and helps children process feelings after a significant loss.

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 1998)
This forthright book serves as a kid-friendly guide to death and dealing with the loss of a loved one. With Dinosaurs as the characters, it talks about what being alive and what dying means, along with the feelings people may experience when someone they know dies.
Why we recommend this book:  It is a very straightforward, matter-of-fact guide that can help parents who are at a loss about how to explain death to kids in an age-appropriate way. This book may be most helpful to read before a death, but can also help answer the “nitty-gritty” questions kids often have, such as why we have funerals and how death is different than sleep. This book is not specifically about pet death, but the dinosaur kids do lose a beloved hamster and are faced with decisions about how they would like to say goodbye and how they want to honor the hamster’s life. The book also includes a glossary with terms like autopsy, cremation and grave. This can be an excellent way to normalize what a child is feeling and help answer some of their misconceptions and questions about what death means.

When You Have to Say Goodbye, Loving and Letting Go of Your Pet by Monica Mansfield, DVM. (Beanpole Books 2011)
This book characterizes the uniqueness of the relationship between children and pets and summarizes what happens when a pet becomes ill, including vet visits and lifespan. It talks about the choice to euthanize a pet and also talks about grieving and memorialization.
Why we recommend this book:  It includes why our relationships with animals are special and comprehensively addresses many significant passages such as illness, lifespan, vet visits, end-of-life-decision making, grief and memorialization. This would be a great book to read before a pet becomes ill.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas. (Little, Brown & Co, 2004)
When her dog Lulu dies, a girl grieves but continues with her life findings ways to honor Lulu’s memory.
Why we recommend this book:  This is an excellent story for parents to read to their children even before a pet is elderly or gone, as it can facilitate a discussion about how pets change and age. It can also help children find ways to tell their own story and verbalize their experiences.

Books Suitable for Teens

Healing a Teen’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends and Caregivers by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. (Companion Press, 2001)
This book provides 100 practical ideas for parents or other caregivers to help teens process the death of a loved one and cope with the grief they are feeling. It focuses on the unique issues that teens face, such as talking with a teacher about missing schoolwork or maintaining relationships with other teens who haven’t experienced a loss and may not understand. Each idea provides a prompt or activity to focus on, it explains why this may be helpful for the teen, and it gives a practical “to do” for that day. This book is for parents or anyone who has a teen in their life who has lost a pet.
Why we recommend this book:  This book is wonderfully practical and gives parents some concrete ideas for ways to help their teen mourn a loss and express themselves. While the book is about general grief and loss and not pet loss, the advice can be applied to so many situations. The ideas are very “hands on” and includes questions to ask the teen, activities to do, or topics to chat about – all really great ways to explore the grief and process the loss in a meaningful way. This book is an excellent resource for someone who is unsure how to connect or talk with a teen to help support them through a loss.

Healing Your Grieving Heart ‘For Teens’: 100 Practical Ideas by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. (Companion Press, 2001)
This book provides 100 practical ideas for teens who are mourning a loss. The writing is directed to teens and contain relevant, useful tips on how to express oneself, how to cope with friends or at school, how to heal, and more. Each idea has a few helpful tips and then includes an “express yourself” section that provides a concrete action the teen can take to express their grief in some way. This book is for teens who have experienced a loss.
Why we recommend this book:  This book has several helpful layers to it: education surrounding grief and loss, concrete ideas that include tips on how to accomplish the idea, and a suggested act of expression. The layout of this book is such that each page has an idea as the focus. This gives the teen the ability to focus on one per day, or to thumb through and see what speaks to them. The language is supportive and guiding, but direct and practical. The writing is directed at the loss of a person, but the ideas and activities are just as applicable to the loss of a pet.

To Bless the Space Between Us, A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue. (Doubleday, 2008)
From the author of the bestselling Anam Cara comes a beautiful collection of blessings to help readers through both the everyday and the extraordinary events of their lives.
Why we recommend this book:  This books blends poetic language and spiritual insight and offers readers comfort and encouragement on their journeys through life. O’Donohue looks at life’s thresholds and offers invaluable guidelines for making the transition from a known, familiar world into a new, unmapped territory.

Goodbye Friend, Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski. (New World Library, revised 2012)
From the moment pets come into our lives, we know the day will arrive when we have to say farewell. Still, we are never emotionally prepared for the last adieu. Filled with heartwarming stories and practical guidance on such matters as taking care of yourself while mourning, creating rituals to honor your pet’s memory, and talking to children about death.
Why we recommend this book:  Gary Kowalski takes us on a very accessible journey of healing offering warmth and guidance and practical advice on how to deal effectively with death by honoring your animal companions life.

Books for Adults

Saying Goodbye to your Angel Animals: Finding Comfort After Losing Your Pet by Allen and Linda Anderson. (New World Library, 2008)
In this thoughtful book, Allen and Linda Anderson walk you through the numbing pain and dreadful sense of loss that arise when a beloved animal dies. They offer solace to help you deal with grief, remember and honor key moments in the animal’s life, find comfort through groups and with professionals, and get past the depression. They also include exercises, affirmations, and meditations to use through the various stages of grief. The Andersons’ caring, practical advice covers all aspects of pet loss.
Why we recommend this book:  What I love about this book are the many meditations found in the book. The process of grieving the loss of a special pet can be a long and arduous one. These meditations provide multiple opportunities to delve deeper into different aspects of your loss and find sources of wisdom and healing within yourself. Their gentleness and compassion permeate the entire book and may be a comfort to you as well.

To Bless the Space Between Us, A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue. (Doubleday, 2008)
From the author of the bestselling Anam Cara comes a beautiful collection of blessings to help readers through both the everyday and the extraordinary events of their lives.
Why we recommend this book:  This books blends poetic language and spiritual insight and offers readers comfort and encouragement on their journeys through life. O’Donohue looks at life’s thresholds and offers invaluable guidelines for making the transition from a known, familiar world into a new, unmapped territory.

Goodbye Friend, Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski. (New World Library, revised 2012)
From the moment pets come into our lives, we know the day will arrive when we have to say farewell. Still, we are never emotionally prepared for the last adieu. Filled with heartwarming stories and practical guidance on such matters as taking care of yourself while mourning, creating rituals to honor your pet’s memory, and talking to children about death.
Why we recommend this book:  Gary Kowalski takes us on a very accessible journey of healing offering warmth and guidance and practical advice on how to deal effectively with death by honoring your animal companions life.

Saying Goodbye To The Pet You Love: A Complete Resource To Help You Heal by Lorri A. Greene, Ph.D. and Jacquelyn Landis. (New Harbinger Publications, 2002)
This book is a thorough resource. It addresses vital themes in the grief process, providing education, self-assessment tests, and strategies for working with specific challenges that are part of grieving.
Why we recommend this book:  The authors first discuss just why animals are so important to people, helping us to understand the nature of our bond with animals and therefore why losing them can be especially traumatic. It includes descriptions and real-life examples of the different types of bonds that exist, as well as a self-test that will help readers determine precisely what kind of bond they have with their animals. The book is primarily about loss and grief and will help readers assess their own personal behaviors and responses to grief, while also providing strategies for working with those. Gaining that insight and awareness can be pivotal in supporting grievers through their experience. Some topics the book addresses are: attachment/bond, guilt, anger, depression, post traumatic stress, supporting children, euthanasia history and decision-making, quality of life, memorialization.

This section is under review and new items will be added soon.