what to say when someone loses a pet

Read This Before You Speak: When Someone Loses a Pet

Bo and Jessie

Bo and Jessie

The Spirit of Bo: In memory of our beloved Jessie who passed away last week, I wanted to pass along some pearls of wisdom about how to comfort someone who has lost a beloved pet. Sometimes, you don’t know what to say and at other times, you may inadvertently say the wrong thing. I did some online research at psychologytoday.com and have found these words to be quite helpful.

First and foremost, never ever say “It was just a dog!” or “It was just a cat!” This not only diminishes the life of the pet but also could offend the pet owner. In a way, this may sound like you are telling the person how silly she might be for loving an animal, and there is nothing silly about that at all. For those who have never had a pet and have not experienced this feeling of loss, this is a good time to exercise empathy for another. The bond between a pet owner and her pet can run very deep.

Never say, “You can get another one.” or “When are you going to get another one?” How is that even comforting? Animals are not replaceable, and that is what that statement implies. While some folks may choose to get another one, they do not do so to replace the pet that died but to have an animal companion by their side. Some people really value and cherish that type of companionship.

Respect and acknowledge the person’s grief. It is not always socially acceptable to grieve over a pet like one would over the loss of a person, but pet owners who are grieving need support. Sometimes, the grief of losing a pet can be the same as losing a friend or family member, if not more.

Be sympathetic with your words. You can say similar things you would say if a human companion had passed away. Tell your friend you are sorry for her loss. Maybe you can write down some specific memories or impressions you had of the animal or of what the animal meant to your friend. More than anything, just be on hand to listen to your friend.

By all means, send a sympathy card. This is another way to show your support. Send a poem or plant a tree or bush in memory of your friend’s pet. You can even offer to help your friend plan a memorial service.

While I am saddened by the loss of Jessie, I am also happy to have her with me in the Great Beyond. She was a wonderful companion to our human, whom we both miss greatly but will always be with in spirit.

What to Say When a Friend Loses a Pet

Bolt, Yorkie-Poo guest columnist:

It is with a heavy heart that I compose this entry.  Bo was such an incredible cat, a real joy, a source of inspiration to all.  He will be missed greatly, but we will maintain his spirit and presence continually throughout this blog.  Jessie is rather choked up right now, and rightfully so.  As such, I wanted to digress from the theme of the month to focus on what you can do when a friend loses a pet.  How should you appropriately respond?

Most of us have probably known someone who has experienced the loss of someone very close to them.  It is often an awkward and difficult situation and can be very challenging to know what to say and what to do.  It can be just as difficult for someone to lose a pet, as those are often some of the very closest bonds we have in life.  Here are a few suggestions for helping a friend cope with the loss of a beloved pet:

**Offer your sincere condolences and ask if there is anything you can do, just as you would if a human had died.

**Bring over dinner or a special treat.  Getting back into the routine of things after the loss of a pet can be difficult.  Simple gestures such as a meal and even a hug can help tremendously.

**Be a supportive listener.  Ask to see photos of your friend’s pet.  Let your friend talk through her grief and remain supportive and understanding.  For many people, a pet is a true member of the family, and losing a pet leaves a big void, just as the loss of a human life would.  Never say things like, “It was time for him to go,” or “Now you can get a new dog/cat.”  Be sympathetic.

**Send a card to let your friend know you are thinking of her.

**Share a special memory you have of her pet.

**Allow your friend time to grieve.  Do not even mention the thought of getting another pet for at least six months.  As with any loss, the grieving process must take place.

Bo…you will be missed, but you will never, ever be forgotten!  We love ya, man!

(Thanks to associatedcontent.com for this valuable insight.)

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