The best books for children and adults coping with the loss of a pet

Who am I?

Ever since I was a young girl, I always turned to writing to work through anything that was happening in my life, ranging from the first time I experienced loss to my parents’ divorce. I have since published three children’s books on tough topics as I have aimed to provide parents, children, and teachers with tools to discuss loss and change. My most recent book, Goodbye, Gus is specifically about the loss of a pet. My dad died when I was 21, and that was the first death (other than my dogs) that I ever experienced. I was able to experience first-hand the fact that the loss of my pets helped prepare me to cope with grief, and I also learned that we can all focus on what we did have and hang on to those memories forever. 

I wrote...

Goodbye, Gus

By Amy Lee Kite,

Book cover of Goodbye, Gus

What is my book about?

Goodbye, Gus: Exploring grief and finding hope after the loss of a pet is for children ages 2 – 8 although many adults have reported loving the book, as well. For many young children, losing a pet is their first experience with death. This book helps to ease their sadness, address tough questions that may arise, and comfort them with an honest and hopeful message. The book is helpful for adults, too as it not only provides a tool for their discussions with children, but it provides comfort and hope for them, too. 

The books I picked & why

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The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages

By Leo Buscaglia,

Book cover of The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages

Why this book?

I first read this book as a 21-year-old woman who had just lost her father. Other than losing pets, this was my first experience with loss. The book Freddie the Leaf seemed like a children’s book, but its themes and messages were so relatable, even though I was a senior in college. I remember the simple way that the concepts of passing seasons and life and death were portrayed in such a comforting manner, and I was so grateful that someone gifted me with this book during the most difficult time in my life. 

The Invisible String

By Patrice Karst, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of The Invisible String

Why this book?

This is such a beautiful tale of a mother comforting her children by explaining that they are always connected by an invisible string. As a mother of three, I have often told my own children a similar fact: We are forever connected, and I will always remain in your heart, even if I am not with you. I love that message that is contained in The Invisible String, reminding readers that we are always close to those we love. 

The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies

By Wallace Sife,

Book cover of The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies

Why this book?

This book is full of comforting information for those who have lost a pet and are going through the grieving process. I remember reading this book and feeling so grateful that a psychologist put together this information specifically for those of us who are coping with losing a pet. I love my dogs, and they are a big part of my family. When I have lost them, I feel devastated. Pet grief is a bereavement process that deserves attention, care, and understanding, and this book helps us to understand that intense grief. 

Dog Songs: Poems

By Mary Oliver,

Book cover of Dog Songs: Poems

Why this book?

I am recommending Dog Songs as a dog lover and as a poet. Two of my favorite things are dogs and poetry, and Mary Oliver combines the two in her beautiful celebration of the love between humans and dogs. I think this is a great choice when people are grieving, as the magic of the canine/human connection is conveyed in these poems, providing a source of beauty and comfort for the reader. All of her selections emphasize that unique love that we have with our pets, reminding us to enjoy life’s precious moments. 

The Amazing Afterlife of Animals: Messages and Signs From Our Pets On The Other Side

By Karen A. Anderson,

Book cover of The Amazing Afterlife of Animals: Messages and Signs From Our Pets On The Other Side

Why this book?

I chose this comforting, spiritual book, which is about a concept that I wonder about myself — an afterlife. The idea that those we love can still connect with us after they exit this life is something I want to believe and is something that certainly provides me with comfort. The stories that this author shares offer so much help and enable us to feel closer to our pets who we have sadly lost. Ever since reading this book, I have seen more signs that enable me to believe that the bond I have with dogs I have lost can still be as strong as ever today. 

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