“We also need to talk about the death of pets,” animal chaplain offers on National Pet Day


NEW YORK – On National Pet Day, animal advocates recommend spending more time celebrating the joy pets can bring to human homes and the wellness benefits of living with animals . Many also draw attention to animals that live in shelters and encourage people to adopt them rather than buying pets from breeders.

Today, Animal Chaplain Sarah Bowen goes one step further by asking us to honor animals that have died and those that may soon die. “Acknowledging that one day our beloved furry family members will die is often shunned, as if talking about it would bring about the event, Bowen offers. “This refusal to talk about death can leave us unprepared to make the best decisions for the health of an end-of-life animal with us. It can also make grieving much more difficult.

With sixty-seven percent of US households now containing pets (fifty-seven percent of homes worldwide), grief over the loss of a pet is a common occurrence that can be devastating. A report suggests that 93% of people who lose their pet experience disruptions in their lives, such as trouble sleeping or loss of appetite. More than 50% reduced their social activities and 45% had professional difficulties. Other studies have documented loss of motivation, increased stress, anxiety, worry and depression.

Bowen says talking about the loss before it happens can help people make more thoughtful decisions about end-of-life medical procedures and help them better cope with the loss. “Research tells us that talking about an animal’s death and social support are both essential to the grieving process,” she notes.

His new book Sacred Sendings: An animal chaplain’s advice on surviving the loss of an animal, finding meaning in life and healing the planet (Monkfish Book Publishing Company, April 12, 2022) offers a three-part plan for dealing with grief along with suggestions for creating memorials for beloved pets. She also explores animal bereavement and tackles difficult topics such as human biases that can lead to animal exploitation.

Additionally, she suggests ways to recognize the challenges faced by the wildlife around us, reflecting, “It is estimated that more than one million animals lose their lives on the roads every day in the United States alone. Many of them are avoidable deaths if we drove a little slower and a lot more conscientiously.

Sacred Sendings hits shelves on Tuesday, April 12.


Praise for Sacred Sendings:

“If there’s one book you choose to read on how to appreciate and improve your relationships with animals and fully appreciate who they really are, this is it.” ― MARC BEKOFF, author of The emotional life of animals and other books; Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder

“A fiery invitation to mourn multiple species for our more than human companions, from our beloved pets, to the deer by the side of the road, to the rapid extinction of species on our shared planet” – CODY J SANDERS, chaplain at Harvard University and adviser to the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life, MIT

About Sarah A. Bowen:
Sarah A. Bowen is an animal chaplain and co-founder of Compassion Consortium, the premier interfaith, cross-spirit, and cross-species community for people who care about and advocate for animals and the planet. She also accompanies animals in death, creates sacred memorial rituals, counsels grieving humans, and advocates for exploited and endangered species in religious and secular contexts. She has presented on animal death and inter-species spirituality at a wide range of venues, including the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Compassion Arts Festival, Campaign for action for non-violence from Pace E Bene, the Spiritual Forum and many podcasts. She is a columnist on animal/human relations for Spirituality & Health magazine, and his work has appeared in Parabola, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Elephant Journaland on a wide range of podcasts, including the Conservation Podcast All creatures.


Reverend Sarah Bowen
Sacred Sendings
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.


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