Grieving the Loss of Your Horse

Three SLO County horses died in one day. Openly, through social media posts, three owners were grieving the loss of their horses all on the same day. Each post told a story of special memories. These descriptions of the well-loved horses and the impact each made on the lives of their owners and others marked the start of the grieving process. The horse community rallied around them and expressed sympathy for each grieving soul. So many of us were relating to the grief. We all have our stories of losing our horses.

Losing a horse can produce a different kind of grief, not more difficult and not less, just different. Usually, horses are with us for longer than other pets. They also leave behind many treasured memories of riding adventures and pursuits, along with emotional connection moments. All this and more happens with life with a horse. Grieving the loss of your horse is a real thing.


Go ahead and make plans to get out of town. Use this Horse and Pet Care Communication Kit to ensure your pet sitter will be taking care of your pets the way you do.


How Do You Go About Grieving the Loss of Your Horse?

Jennifer Camsuzou with “Woody”

First, know that there are people who “get” you. The horse community responses to each post announcing the death of the beloved horse, demonstrated empathy. In the same manner the staff at Eden Memorial Pet Care are of that same mindset. They interact with people dealing with the loss of a pet, every day. “I let people talk through their feelings,” says Jennifer Camsuzou, Facility Manager at Eden Memorial Pet Care. “Having lost my own horses helps me relate.”

The next steps involve action on the grieving person’s part. “We offer ideas to help them understand what they are going through,” explains Laurie Abshire, Grief Counselor at Eden Memorial Pet Care. “Some activities include: journaling, planning a celebration of life, getting a memorial keepsake, and talking with others who understand.”


Planning for the Future

When we are caught off-guard the impact of the loss of a horse can be more devastating. Planning for that fateful day can make things easier. Eden Memorial Pet Care can walk you through the planning process. “Before the horse passes, I gather necessary information and tell the owners about the options,” explains Jennifer. Because a horse is such a large animal, the cremation process involves maneuvering the carcass into the chamber. Jennifer makes sure clients understand all the steps in the process and what to expect so there are no surprises. “After the horse passes, I get the information I need about pickup and timing then I let them talk. We talk about the good times and share our horse stories together.”

Recently Jennifer walked a horse owner through an end-of-life decision for her horse. “Letting her talk things out helped her make the best decision for her horse.” Each client need is managed in the moment. There is no set goal besides just letting horse and pet owners know that Eden is there for them.

Understanding Grief

Laurie Abshire, Grief Counselor

“It’s what I do in everyday life,” remarks Laurie. “Being empathic, letting others talk, being a good listener, and offering ideas works in many interactions with others.” As an advanced grief counselor, Laurie is trained to recognize different levels of depression. She helps clients understand that it is OK to acknowledge their feelings. If needed, Laurie will send clients in a direction for further help. “Sometimes a pet death unearths other loss memories,” suggests Laurie. In this case she helps people know when to let go and when to engage movement for further healing.


Example of Grief Processed

Recently a woman called Eden Memorial Pet Care to talk about her dog who had just passed away. She wanted to know about the services offered. She chose a private cremation and brought the dog to the crematory. Laurie remembers this encounter vividly, “Upon arrival, she was clearly grieving. I get emotional too as I know what she is feeling.” The lady opened the back of her car and there was her faithful friend beautifully laying on a clean dog bed. A bunch of fresh flowers, from where they always walked together, were resting beside the dog. Laurie was so moved by this scene. “I just wanted to hug her, but couldn’t because of restrictions at the time.”

A Special Cremation

The dog was cremated with the flowers and the owner returned to pick up her pet cremains. She found comfort it taking something back home with her. As she departed she left a letter for the staff to read. “This is our story,” she said handing the letter over. The staff read the letter which was a description of how she got the dog as a rescue. The dog had an amputated leg, but that was no matter. Soon after adopting the dog, cancer was discovered in both the dog and the owner. The dog and the owner supported each other as they went through cancer treatment together. The letter explained all of this and all the Eden staff were moved to tears. The story was tenderly and beautifully written.

We do experience a bond with our animal family. Laurie’s bereavement training helps her understand how important empathy is because of that bond. “We all need to have someone who will acknowledge our grief with us,” explains Laurie. Laurie sent a sympathy card to the owner, signed by the entire staff who wrote about their appreciation of knowing her story with her faithful friend. “The fact that she wanted to give us her story was really wonderful.”

Making a Happy Ending

“It’s empowering to me to share the loss and be there for others. We bring a peaceful ending to a sad situation,” explains Laurie. This story had a happy ending. The staff at Eden celebrates the action of providing closure as they respect the love this lady had for her dog. “The best part is that she got her pet back!”

Eden Memorial Pet Care Helps You Grieve the Loss of Your Horses and Pets

Eden provides variety of services all designed for helping you grieve the loss of your pet. Pre-planning helps you manage the loss. Then there are a variety of cremation services from communal cremation for smaller pets to private viewing of the cremation in the Eternal Room and private customized cremations. Grief counseling is available and always a simple listening ear and heart is found at Eden Memorial Pet Care. You will not be alone in your grief.


Photo credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos

Come ride along with me! Get your own > Riding the SLO County Trails hotsheet download to get started exploring the SLO County horse trails. Tell me where to send your hotsheet by entering in your e-mail address once you have clicked the link. You will become a member of the SLO Horse News herd where you will get the latest stories and information regarding the horse community in San Luis Obispo county and beyond. Let’s get going!


Are you prepared to leave your animals in the care of a pet sitter? The Horse and Pet Care Communication Checklist enables you to gather all the vital information you need to communicate all the elements of all your animals’ care to your pet sitter.  What if you suddenly had to leave town? Would you be ready for someone to quickly step in and take care of your animals? What if something happened to your horse or pet while you were away? Would your pet sitter know your wishes? This checklist will help you prepare your pet sitter to care for your animals the way you do. Get your Horse and Pet Care Free Checklist here >.

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