Losing a pet can be extremely painful. Having to do things like figuring out the details of how to bury your pet doesn’t help. Pets can make us feel unconditionally loved and appreciated. Sometimes, our pets grow up with us. Writing about your pet can help cope with losing them.
There are evolutionary reasons that explain why humans and dogs, for example, form such strong bonds. The close bond formed between you and your pet can make losing them nearly as painful as losing a friend or family member—and for some it's more.
Writing poetry dedicated to your pet can help manage grief while celebrating your pet’s life. Even if you don’t identify as a writer or poet, sharing your feelings and memories this way can be deeply healing.
The following 6 tips will help you explore your feelings and celebrate your pet. Through all of these tips, the goal is not to stop grieving or accelerate the process. The goal is to let yourself grieve and grieve holistically to promote your own healing.
6 Tips to Writing a Poem After Losing A Pet
Most of these tips are actually about your feelings and facing your grief. There is no major genre for pet-memorial poems like there are love poems, so it’s hard to say which structure is best for this type of poem. Instead, these tips help guide you through your feelings and translating them into poetry.
Accept and allow your feelings. Sometimes, it can feel silly to be so torn about losing your pet, but these feelings are valid. Some folks may have had to put their pet down and may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. For any of these situations, it’s important to be truthful with yourself. Accept how you’re feeling and try to understand what you’re feeling and why.
Think about how you would convey your feelings in a poem. Could you compare them to something else? Can you describe a scene that may especially trigger your grief?
Soak in the memories and big moments. It’s an intense experience to lose life, including your pet. Their death may seem defining of their life as you grieve, but challenge yourself to revisit some of your most prominent memories together.
Remember the little things. Grief can be overwhelming, but remembering little details can anchor you to reality. From your memories, draw out the little details about your pet’s appearance, behaviors, and quirks. This can bring back memories that trigger joy, and they can be great details to include in your poem.
Invite joy back into the picture. Funerals are not meetings of plain and gloom. They are gatherings to celebrate life. When people share remarks at funerals, they may cry but may also crack jokes, tell funny stories, and bring light back into the room. If you lose a pet, you are cheating your pet and your love for your pet if you don’t make space for the joy and liveliness you shared. How will you bring light back into your picture? Try working this into your poem, whether by telling a scene or adding humor.
Bring back the energy and love lost. When our pets die, it can feel like they take all the love with them. In reality, you still carry that love and have the opportunity to share it with the world just like your pet did. As you challenge yourself to grow emotionally, think about how you’d express this love in your poetry. How does it feel? Does it look like anything? What does it feel like?
Was it letting your pet sleep in your bed to keep it from being lonely in a cage? Was it sharing nibbles of your food? Think about how to tell the ways you loved each other.
Explore poetic tools that say more than plain words can. Words aren’t always enough to tell how we really feel, but poetry is magical in the ways it uses words to (somehow) do more. There are a wealth of tools you can use to express yourself, from metaphors to anaphoras. Do you want to compare how you feel to something? Try a simile. Do you want your words to sound musical? Try using assonance. Think about using poetic tools if you’re feeling like words aren’t enough.
Have you lost a pet or know someone who has? As you wrestle with your feelings and the aftermath of your loss, think about expressing yourself through poetry. You can share your words here on PowerPoetry.org, which may touch someone else feeling just like you. If you’re not ready to write, you can read heartfelt poems by community members of Power Poetry, like “Casket of a Stranger.”