How to help someone grieving the loss of a pet

For many people who share their homes with an animal, their pet becomes a true member of the family. You share a special bond with them, and they can make you laugh with their antics or comfort you when you’re having a bad day. That’s why the loss of a pet can be so devastating and life without them so lonely. 

It can be hard to know what to do or say when a loved one has lost an animal companion, especially if you’ve never had a pet yourself. Hopefully the following advice will help you to offer them your support in their time of need.

Be thoughtful with your choice of words

Firstly, it’s important to remember that pets are extremely important to people, so be careful not to trivialize that loss. For example, you want to avoid saying phrases such as ‘it was just a pet’ or ‘you can always get another dog’. Instead, let your friend know that you are there for them and taking their grief seriously. Refer to their deceased pet by their name, and always use ‘he’ or ‘she’ (not ‘it’) when talking about them. This helps to acknowledge the loss and ensure that you’re respectful.

Depending on whether or not your friend is ready to talk, you might like to share stories you remember about their pet or look at photos of him or her together. If they’re not up for that yet, just be there to offer a hug and a sympathetic ear when they are. Remember that grief can be experienced very differently from person to person – both in terms of how severe it is and how long it lasts. Lastly, never suggest that your friend gets a new pet. Every animal is unique and no pet can be replaced in this way.

Send a card and gift

Just as you would send a card to someone who had lost a human member of their family, you can do so for someone who has lost an animal companion. There are lots of beautifully worded cards available, and this can be a kind and unobtrusive way to convey your thoughts. 

For something extra special, you could always send a small gift too. Companies such as Laurelbox offer tasteful memorial presents including jewelry and candles, which can be personalized with the name of your friend’s beloved pet. There’s also the classic option of flowers, or you could make a donation to an animal charity in the pet’s name.

Offer some practical support

The grieving process can be tough, and sometimes what people find most supportive is practical assistance. You will know the bet way you could help someone who has lost a pet; you could offer to come over and cook them dinner, help them with the housework, or run to the grocery store for them. They might also appreciate having a friend with them when they go through their deceased pet’s toys and other items to donate or throw away. Remember, if you’re unsure of how you can best provide support, you can always ask. Your friend is sure to appreciate it.

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