How should we cope with the death of a pet?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Having experienced this very thing just a month ago, I can relate to this question.

Our Australian Cattle Dog died October 10, 2015, at the age of 11 years (about 60 in human years). He lived a good, long life, although for the last five months of his life, he battled prostate cancer. Our veterinarian estimated he only had two weeks to live. Orion lived 10 times longer—five months! We enjoyed every minute of him after his diagnosis. For five months, we prepared ourselves to lose him. When he finally passed, we were ready. All of the family members miss him still, but he is suffering no more. Every chance I remember him, I thank Father God for the time He did give him to us. Orion knew he was loved, and that is all that matters.

The death of a pet is never an easy life event with which to deal. After all, pets take on a strange, human-like form in our minds. They become a part of our family. We feel excitement when they are happy and we feel sadness when they appear lonely. They like for us to talk to them, scratch them, and play with them. In their own special way, they “talk” to us—facial expressions, vocal sounds, scratching gently at our clothes or on our skin, and so on. When they die, it feels just like a human being died. Once they die, a part of us dies with them.

As King Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes chapter 3: “[19] For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. [20] All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. [21] Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” There is one common trait between humans and animals—they are both destined to die and their physical bodies will return to the earth. Humans, however, are different in that they are “living souls” (Genesis 2:7), and thus can never pass into nonexistence. Humans merely leave the physical world and enter the spirit world (heaven for Christians, hell for everyone else).

There is some good news in the death of a pet, though. When pets die, they do not exist anymore. They just disappear entirely. They do not go to heaven or hell. There is no more suffering for them. We need no longer worry if they are well feed, well watered, sheltered, and healthy. We can release them to the ages. Our heart can grieve the loss, our mind can recollect the good times and wish there were more to come, but we can be at peace. These creatures served us well, and we creatures served them well. Will we see our pets again? The Bible is silent in answering and we too are silent in answering. (Certainly, God can call them back into existence if He so chooses.)

Sin kills. It takes. It divides. It hurts. Creation is fallen. Every creature, man or animal, has to die at some point. This is not the way God intended life to operate. Never, ever blame Him for what Adam deliberately chose to do. God never uses the death of people or pets to punish us or teach us lessons. That is religious nonsense. Additional good news is that creation is not hopelessly lost to sin forever. With each passing day, we hasten toward the time when God will make all things new. In that new creation, sin and death will be absent. They will never be heard from again.

I have found it most beneficial in my own life to thank God upon every remembrance of Orion. Whenever you miss your deceased pet, friend, just be thankful that Father God gave the animal to you at all. Which is better? Having never had the joy of a pet in your life, or having had the joy of having it for the time you did?

As we learn from our Apostle Paul, whether good times or bad, whether in times of need or in times of prosperity, Jesus Christ can and will see us through them. Difficult circumstances will not be easy, but they will be easier. You can cry or weep, but, rather than being bitter and saying, “Oh God, You are so mean because You took my pet away from me!,” you can say, “Oh God, thank You so much for my having the animal at all!” That is the key to overcoming the grief, no matter what the difficulty in life. Philippians 4:11-13: “[11] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. [12] I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

And, as Paul had to learn about his trials and tribulations, 2 Corinthians chapter 12: “[8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” No matter what the difficulty in life, Jesus Christ has given us an internal capacity to endure it. We can bear the trouble using His power. It does not have to destroy us. His grace (everything He can do for us through His finished crosswork) will certainly see us through every difficulty and struggle in life… whether concerning people or pets! 🙂

Also see:
» What about “modern-day faith healing?”
» Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus died?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?