The Heartache of Saying Goodbye to Not One, But Two Beloved Family Pets

When I sat down to write this post, I had no idea what to say. I felt at a loss for words. Or rather, I felt at a loss for the right words. How do I put into words the piercing heartache of saying goodbye to not one, but two beloved pets in the family in one weekend? The dear pets were not mine. They were Dear Daughter’s and Dear Son-in-law’s beloved black mutt, Ace and beloved cat, Beamer. You can read the details here, but first grab some tissue.

No, Ace and Beamer were not my pets, but I loved them, as did Dear Hubby. As did our entire family. Years ago, Dear Hubby began referring to all the kids’ pets as our grandchildren. ‘Cuz that’s the way we roll. As I’ve mentioned before, we are a bit pet obsessed in this family. And that’s the way we like it.

Hearing the news about Beamer and then Ace, pierced my heart. My heart aches due to my own sadness; it also aches because Dear Daughter’s heart aches. I cannot fix her pain.

But grief is never something to be fixed. 

These new losses also remind me.

This is what losses do, remind you of other losses. 

Nearly three years ago, we said goodbye to another dear old dog. More recently, another beloved pet and link to the past was suddenly gone. There have been other losses, and more are coming. Such is the cycle of life and death. The trouble is, with pets that cycle is so darn short.

These fresh losses weren’t unexpected. After all, Ace was 12. That’s old for a big dog like him. Beamer was a senior as well. Both had been having some pretty serious health issues for a while.

And yet, I always hoped there’d be one more visit. One more photo. One more hug. One more stroll. One more toss of a ball. One more howl. One more purr. One more food item to keep out of Beamer’s reach (long story). One more gob of drool to wipe from my pant leg. One more goodbye. One more two-way gaze as we drove away.

And there always was.

Until now.

Every pet that comes into our lives is special. The sort of bond that forms likely has a lot to do with what is happening in our lives for the decade or so we are privileged to oversee their care.

The bond I had with Ace was special. It was special for a lot of reasons. I was with Dear Daughter the day we drove to a tiny town in Minnesota, picked him up and brought him home to her apartment in Fargo. The entire drive home I sat there thinking, what made you pick this dog?

I mean, he was big. And strong. And unruly. And his eyes seemed too tiny. And he drooled. A lot. And he panted. A lot. And he understood no basic commands. None.

Let’s just say, I had my doubts.

But I was wrong about Ace. Really wrong.

Ace quickly won me over and pretty much everyone else he came in contact with, too, over the last eleven or so years. There was just something about him. He was a better dog than any of us could ever have hoped for.

Of course, Dear Daughter deserves much of the credit for how Ace turned out. Lots of work was involved. And patience. And mostly, love.

They were a good match. 

Yes, Ace weaved his way into our hearts. The memories are many. Ace witnessed a lot in the eleven years he was part of this family. He was part of the joyful times, like Dear Daughter’s wedding. And he was part of the sad times, like visiting my mother when she was dying from metastatic breast cancer. He was part of every day, the ordinary and the not so ordinary.

The Heartache of Saying Goodbye to Not One But Two Beloved Pets
Best wedding photo ever!

That’s the thing with pets. They witness it all. They witness our highest moments and our lowest. And they love us through it all. They anchor us and help keep us steady.

The bond I had with Beamer was not quite the same as the one I had with Ace. I admit it, I’m more of a dog person. Mostly, I’m still figuring out cats.

But I loved Beamer too. He was one special cat. He had the most beautiful, plush fur coat you could imagine. Like a lion cub in appearance and in heart. That was Beamer.


Saying Goodbye to Not One But Two Beloved Family Pets #pets #petloss #grief
Beamer – September 2017 during one of our pet sitting gigs

Once I started writing this post, I realized I didn’t have to have the right words. I didn’t have to say all that’s in my heart. Neither are possible anyway.

All I really need to say right now is, thank you, Ace. Thank you, Beamer. Thank you for the memories.

Mostly, thank you for looking after our girl and for bringing so much joy into her life – into all our lives – for as long as you were able.

We wish you could’ve stayed longer, but understand you just could not.

It breaks our hearts you both left on the very same day. Double the loss. Double the heartache.

And yet, you two going out together feels almost like you planned it, one final gift of comfort you offered, that makes us love (and miss) you even more.

Goodbye, Ace and Beamer. 

You were good boys, and I’m gonna miss you.

Read more about Ace and Beamer at ThatMutt.

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The heartache of saying goodbye to beloved family pets
Our girl and Ace – 2015


Last visit with Ace in February 2018
Last visit with Ace – February 2018

Have you had to said goodbye to a beloved pet recently, or not so recently? 

Share about your pet(s).

Have you ever felt embarrassed by your grief for a pet?


The Heartache of Saying Goodbye to Beloved Pets

21 thoughts to “The Heartache of Saying Goodbye to Not One, But Two Beloved Family Pets”

  1. Aw, I’m so sorry for the loss of your furry “grandchildren” Nancy. It seems that no matter how old, tired, or sick, your pet is, nothing prepares you for saying goodbye. You and your family have my condolences.
    More and more people are coming to realize the important relationship that can be formed with an animal, be it a dog, a cat, or yes, even a fish or a frog. I’m happy that it is becoming much more acceptable to openly grieve for our pets. I have a friend whose seven year old child cried buckets over a pet grasshopper who died. Nobody laughed at her daughter’s grief and nobody told her she was being silly to grieve for an insect. Her intense connection to her pet was every bit as important to her as another person’s connection to a warm and fuzzy puppy or kitten. I think the empathy showed by friends and family is an indication of how far we’ve come in recognizing the importance of that human/animal connection.
    I’ve said goodby to many pets in my life, each one special in their own way. Each time I felt like a little part of my heart went with them, but it’s never stopped me from loving another animal. Yes, I will always have a pet in my life, even if it’s just a grasshopper.

    1. Lennox, Thank you for your kind words. You’re right, no matter what, a person just isn’t prepared. You might be right that more and more people are coming to realize the impact of pets on our lives and how hard it is when they die. I hope that’s true. I love the story you shared about your friend’s child and her grasshopper. How sweet. Like you, I’ve said goodbye to many pets, too, and yet I will put myself through it again and again because the joy each pet brings is so worth it. Thank you again for your kindness.

  2. My dogs ( we usually have a least 3 at a time- all rescues) are our children and a piece of my heart dies each time one of them dies. The memories are so comforting but I really can’t describe how losing a pet affects me. I know they are waiting for me on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge- I believe they will enter heaven with us.

    1. Lin, I understand how and why you feel your pets are like children. Many feel the same. They definitely become members of the family as they weave their way into our hearts. The memories are wonderful, that’s for sure. Thank you for sharing. Give your pets a pat on the head from me.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss of two beautiful family members. I feel your pain. They were certainly beautiful.
    I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog – Chaos – he was 18 1/2 years old and he was my shadow. He loved me like no other and I felt the
    same. I said – when I had to put him down – that this was it. I would not go through this pain ever again. I never got another dog or cat. I do have a bird that I had at the time. I must say I thought I was doing the right thing, but I was wrong. Believe me, don’t think the way I did.
    I think back of the year he died and it has been 16 years I have been without a dog. My heart has just ached for one but I refused. Just look at all the love I have missed all these years and now, at my age, it is too late to bring in another animal. It is hard to lose these precious animals, but I have found that the love they have given me through the years, and the joy and happiness they bring into your home and life is something that makes it all worthwhile. I wish I had listened to other people when they told me this.

    1. Thank you, Margaret. It’s so hard to lose them. I know I will have more dogs but of course Ace will always be extra special.

      It’s just my opinion but I don’t think you can ever be too old to get a dog or a cat.

  4. Nancy, I can’t even imagine losing two pets at the same time. Losing one is heart-rending enough. But two? I am so sorry. Love and healing to all of you. xoxo, Kathi

  5. I am so sorry, Nancy. I am with kathi, I cannot imagine losing two pets. I am sorry you and your family are going through this pain. I am sure they had the best love and care with your family. Thank you for giving them a good home.

    Thinking of you. Xoxo

  6. There is never enough time it seems. My pets aren’t just pets, they are my children, my family. When losing them you lose a piece of your heart and soul. I am heartbroken you lost two babies in one day, completely devasting! Rejoice in memories and hug the other babies even more. Wishing you and your family all the best.

  7. Like Kathi and Rebecca said, it’s so difficult to lose one pet, but two at a time? Gut-wrenching. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Pets are part of the family; I never understood how anyone could not want a pet, but that’s my opinion, of course.

    Hang onto the memories, for they will hopefully buoy you all up.

    I miss my Cosette, who witnessed my cancer diagnosis, treatment, divorce, adoption, and so much more. I luckily have lots of pictures, and I feel great joy and pain when I look at them. She will always be my special baby.

    1. Beth, Yes, those photos – looking at them brings great joy and pain too. So true. Thank you for your kind words. I know you get it.

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