What to Say If Someone Loses a Pet

What to Say If Someone Loses a Pet

Losing a pet is a very traumatic event in a family’s life. Over the years, pets become valued family members. When a dog or cat passes away, their loss is deeply felt, and it is only normal for families to take time to grieve. Experts indicate that the death of a pet can be as difficult for people to cope with as the loss of a human family member. Yet many people find it difficult to know what to say when someone they care about has experienced the death of a beloved dog or cat. What should you say when someone you love loses a pet?

Is Grieving for a Pet Different than for a Person?

Grief is a highly individual process, and as a result, everyone goes through it in their own unique way. With this in mind, it is difficult to say whether or not the loss of a person can be compared with the pain felt with the death of a pet. With this in mind; as with most conditions in life, we may have undergone the same thing but have had very different feelings about the experience. Because of this, it is important to resist the temptation to compare the grief a friend or family member feels over the loss of their pet to our own feelings when in a similar situation. When people compare their own past circumstances to their friend or family member’s, it can make that person feel as though their grief is not being properly respected.

 What Should I Say to Someone Who Has Lost Their Cherished Pet?

It is always challenging trying to determine what to say to a friend or family member that is struggling with the loss of their dog, cat, or other family pet. It is important to choose words that show an acknowledgement of the pet’s significance in their lives and the void they will leave behind. Most people want to leave the door open for their loved one to share their feelings over the loss of their pet while still respecting that their friend of family member may be too emotional to do much talking at this time.

Extending condolences to a person is always a good way to acknowledge the depth of their loss. Some of the best ways to approach this include:

  • Saying “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m sorry”

This simple phrase helps people to feel supported in their loss. The act of expressing sincere sorrow for a lost pet helps the person to feel understood and cared for.

  • Encourage the person to talk about their dog, cat, or pet

Though not everyone is comfortable discussing their pet and his or her role in their lives, it is always a good idea to give a loved one the opportunity to share their feelings. If the person is reluctant to talk, it is important to respect their wishes and not pursue the topic further. Talking about a beloved pet is only healing if the person is ready for a discussion of that nature.

Mention the lost pet by their given name

Using the pet’s given name is one way that a person can express true love for their family member or friend. Names carry significant meaning. When a person uses a pet’s name when expressing their condolences, their loved one feels cared for and supported.

  • Share that words of comfort may fail you but that you care

Sometimes it is impossible to find the right words to say. When this occurs, it is a good idea to simply communicate that though words are inadequate to provide the comfort a loved one needs that their sorrow is felt and respected.

Is it Appropriate Send a Condolence Card After the Death of a Pet?

It is always a good idea to send a condolence card to someone who has experienced a loss; whether it is the death of a person or a pet. By sending a card, loved ones receive the comfort of knowing that those they care for understand they are hurting and are thinking about them in their time of grief. This can go a long way to helping the person feel supported and loved.

When sending a condolence card, it is typically best to keep any personal messages brief. Here are some suggestions for thoughtful comments that can be included in a condolence card for someone who has lost a pet:

  • Thinking of you and {pet’s name}. I’m here to help if you need me.
  • They are never with us long enough. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.
  • {Pet’s name} was very special. He/she will be deeply missed.
  • May your heart find comfort and peace in the precious memories you shared with {pet’s name}. Thinking of you.
  • My heart hurts for your loss. {Pet’s name} was a valued part of your family and will be deeply missed. I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to.
  • What a wonderful life you gave {pet’s name}! May those memories sustain you during your time of loss.

What are Some Other Things I Can Do to Show I Care?

For people looking to give their family member or friend a little boost after the loss of a pet, there are a few things that can help to commemorate their dog or cat. Among the most popular things to do are:

  • Send a gift in memory of the pet such as a piece of jewellery, a garden stone, or a wind chime bearing the pet’s name
  • Make a donation in the pet’s name to a pet-related charity
  • Send flowers or a potted plant
  • Plant a tree or shrub in your yard as a memorial to your friend’s pet
  • Perform a memorial service as a tribute to your friend’s pet
  • Post a photo on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, including a thoughtful message as a memorial

Are There Some Things That You Should Avoid Saying to a Friend Who Has Lost a Pet?

Words can heal, but unfortunately, they can also hurt. With this in mind, it is very important to carefully weigh out anything to be said to someone who is grieving the loss of a dog, cat, or other family pet.

Among the things to avoid saying are:

  • “{Pet’s name} is better off/in a better place.”

Though this may be true, it does not change the fact that the person is deeply hurting and missing their beloved pet.

  • “Pet’s name” wouldn’t want you cry.”

Crying is a valuable part of grieving.  It is a natural process that helps people to find some relief from their loss and pain.

  • “He/she was only a pet.”

This minimizes the person’s loss. Many people grieve as deeply for their lost pets as they do over the death of a human family member. The loss is substantial and real and should be acknowledged and not belittled.

  • “You’ll feel better soon.”

When experiencing grief, the person feels as though the sorrow they feel will always be with them. When someone makes a statement of this nature, it may make the person feel like they are being hastened to forget a pet that was a substantial part of their life. Time will lessen the hurt, but this statement is unhelpful in the light of fresh grief.

  • “Have you considered getting another pet?”

Since grieving is highly individual, some people will cope with the loss of a beloved dog or cat by seeking to get another one to help guide them through their hurt. Others are not ready to welcome a new pet into their home so soon and some may never be. Respect the person’s feelings by avoiding this question altogether.

Sadly, our pets don’t live forever. When a loved one loses a family pet, it is important to express sincere sympathy to help them know we care. Consider our top tips for helping your family member or friend to feel loved and supported during their time of grief over a lost pet.

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