Last year I posted a blog about what not to say when someone loses a pet. I got great feedback and was glad to hear some of the advice I shared was helpful. If you missed it, you can read it HERE. Today I thought I’d write a follow up and share what to say when someone you know has to say goodbye to a furry friend.
More and more people are recognizing that pets are a part of the family. While we can all agree that pets are not the same as having human children, for many people, they are like their kids. I call them our fur-kids. We care for them, love them and miss them when they are gone. Because they are a part of our daily lives, losing them can be harder than losing some of our family members, especially ones we don’t see often or feel very close to.
DO: Call and listen to your friend as she talks about her feelings. If you knew her pet, share positive memories you have. It will help your friend feel better knowing you will miss them too.
DO: Say “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Even if you don’t understand how anyone can be so sad over the loss of an animal, if it’s obvious your friend is heartbroken, don’t belittle those feelings.
DO: Say things like their pet had a great life. Or Bailey was blessed to have you as his family. While we may not all agree on the same pet parenting tactics, we wouldn’t be friends with someone who didn’t geuinely care about their pets.
DO: Offer to host a memorial service if that’s something you feel your friend might like. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a small gathering of folks who knew the dog or cat that passed away, where memories can be shared and tears can be shed.
DO: Remind them that if they don’t feel like talking now, or may need to talk more later, you are there for them. While your friend may not take you up on your offer, it does help knowing you do care.
DO: Make a donation to a pet charity or organization close to your friend’s heart in honor of their pet. No amount is too small and your gesture will be appreciated.
DO: Offer to plant a tree or shrub in your friend’s yard to honor the memory of their furry friend. Ask first of course, but this maybe just the perfect gift for your friend.
DO: Send a sympathy card and write a heart felt note inside. Hallmark and other greeting card companies have also learned how hard it is for us when we lose a pet. You can find all kinds of pet loss sympathy cards in any card store these days.
While it’s hard to know just the right thing to say, sometimes just offering a hug, a shoulder to cry on and most especially, lending an ear so they can talk about it really does go a long way to help someone who is grieving the loss of a beloved pet.