The Behaviour Sleuths Investigate…Pet Loss

Published on April 11, 2022

In this series of the Behaviour Sleuths we investigate pet loss. If you have experienced pet loss or may be preparing to lose a pet, please join us to discuss research, personal experiences and resources.

Episode 1
In this first episode join us as Monica shares research about attachment / loss and Sala shares her story of pet loss.

Episode 2
In this episode, Vivien shares her personal story of pet loss. We discuss different ways in which pet parents may seek to remember their lost pet and different ideas about what may help. We acknowledge that we all grieve differently. If you are grieving, giving yourself space and time to grieve in your own way is important.


Episode 3
In the last episode we talk about some of the resources that are available to help deal with pet loss in different ways.

The factors that make pet loss so difficult include: connection, attachment a stronger bond during life – stronger continuing bond = greater grief. If you are not surrounded with people who can support you and validate your grief consider finding support through a professional or in some of the ways below.

Adopt a flexibility mindset – Optimism, ability to see negative events as a challenge, and the confidence in your ability to cope. This can increase your actual ability to cope with what is happening.

Pet product companies – headstones, urns, memorial art pieces, shrines – help to maintain continuing bonds

Animal assisted therapy – helping another animal in a rescue organization or to adapt to their new home. You may not be ready to adopt, would you be ready to foster? or to help out?

Create music for your pet – see the Guardian article link below about commissioning music for your pet Write a gratitude letter to your pet – like Vivien did in Episode 2. Or even journal and write down all the funny stories you remember. Having these to look back on one day will bring a smile and not a tear.

Videos / photos – like Vivien who made a video to share with friends and family. Visit the website rainbow bridge – if you are ready.

All links and references to articles below:

The Rainbow Bridge

Every Dog Deserves a Musical Tribute The Guardian

Decoding Trauma: TC’s George Bonanno on 9/11, the Pandemic and How Flexibility is the Key to Survival

Field NP, Orsini L, Gavish R, Packman W. Role of attachment in response to pet loss. Death Stud. 2009 Apr;33(4):334-55. doi: 10.1080/07481180802705783. PMID: 19368063.

Volsche, Shelly. (2019). Pet Parents and the Loss of Attachment. 10.4324/9780429505201-5.

Compitus, Katherine. (2019). Traumatic Pet Loss and the Integration of Attachment-Based Animal Assisted Therapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. 29. 119-131. 10.1037/int0000143.


If you feel like you need to talk to someone, then please do contact me to set up an online session at the MindnLife Clinic.  Call 2521 4668 or email

Category(s):Grief, Loss, Bereavement, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD

Written by:

Dr Monica Borschel

Registered Clinical Psychologist (HK)

Dr. Borschel specializes in Attachment, trauma and Loss. She is experienced in helping adults, teens, children, and families adjust to anxiety, trauma, abuse, divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, and loss of finance. This may include deciding what is in the best interest of the children during custody disputes, strengthening the relationship and communication between the parents and the children.

From Nov 2020 Dr. Borschel is only available for online consultations.

Dr. Borschel’s attachment-based therapy along with EMDR and Brainspotting enables her clients to find healing within themselves. In so doing, she can help her clients to overcome anxiety, trauma, neglect, emotional, verbal, physical abuse, and child abuse.

Furthermore, as an attachment specialist, she also helps individuals understand relationship patterns which prevent them from developing or maintaining healthy relationships. She is able to help reduce anxiety, insomnia, depression and promote confidence and self-esteem.

Dr. Borschel is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. She graduated with her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York City. She later moved to Hong Kong to pursue her doctorate at the University of Hong Kong in Social Work and Social Administration.

Registered Clinical Psychologist with The Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology (HKSCP). Member of the American Psychological Association (APA), The British Psychological Society (BPS), and the Hong Kong Family Law Association (HKFLA).

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