Social Skills

What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Pet

If you’ve ever lost a pet, then you know how painful it can be. The grief can be as intense as losing a family member.

However, as a friend or a loved one who’s not a pet person, it can be hard to know what to say (or do) to help someone experiencing this kind of grief.

Here are comforting things you can say to someone who recently lost a pet:

Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA

Douglas Noll

Lawyer | Mediator | Author, “De-Escalate: How to Calm an Angry Person in 90 Seconds or Less

How to listen and respond to a person who has lost a pet:

Strategy #1: Ignore the words

As weird as this seems, ignoring the words and treating them as noise is the only way you can protect yourself from your own emotional reactivity. Also, when you ignore the words, you free up space in your head to engage the next two strategies. When someone is grieving, you know what is going to be said. You’ve heard it all before.

Strategy #2: Read the emotions

You might not believe this, but you are an expert at reading other people’s emotions. Reading emotions is an innate skill that every human being possesses. The problem is we don’t practice it. The good news is that the skill does not atrophy. All you have to do is remain in silence as you ignore the words. The other person’s emotions will immediately become visible to you.

When someone is grieving the loss of a pet, their emotions will be obvious.

Here’s a checklist:

  • Sadness
  • Grief
  • Hurt
  • Pain
  • Loss
  • Loneliness
  • Abandoned
  • Fear, scared, frightened
  • Anger
  • Anxiety

This list will cover every situation where someone has lost a pet.

Strategy #3: Reflect back the emotions with a “you” statement

As those emotions are revealed to you, reflect them back to the other person with a simple “you” statement. For example, “You are sad.” “You feel grief.” “You are anxious.” “You hurt.” “You feel all alone.” Keep your reflections very short and very direct.

Here’s the checklist again as a series of “you” statements:

  • You are sad
  • You feel a lot of grief.
  • You are hurt
  • You feel a lot of pain.
  • You feel a deep loss.
  • You are lonely.
  • You feel abandoned
  • You are fearful, scared, frightened
  • You are angry.
  • You are anxious.

You may combine emotions into one reflection, such as “You are sad and lonely.” Generally, just reflect two or three emotions at a time, pause, then reflect a couple of more emotions.

Watch for the cues of de-escalation:

  • A verbal assent with a head nod
  • Dropping shoulders in relaxation
  • A sigh of relief

When these occur, the situation is calming down. These relaxation responses occur unconsciously, so watch for them carefully. They are your indicators that you are on the right track.

You might be wondering why reflecting back on these emotions is so powerful. It has to do with how our brains are hard-wired. Although it might seem obvious to you that the person is grief-stricken and heartbroken, that person’s prefrontal cortex is completely shut down. As a result, that person has no control or ability to self regulate his or her emotions.

You are literally lending your prefrontal cortex to the person suffering from the loss of a pet for the time it takes his or her prefrontal cortex to regain control.

Brain scanning studies have shown that when you reflect back the emotions of a grieving person, that person calms down almost immediately. The prefrontal cortex will come back online as the emotional centers of the brain deactivate during this emotional reflection process. The pain of the loss will remain, but it will not be overwhelming.

As a side benefit, when you focus on the grieving person’s emotional experience, you protect yourself from your own reactivity.

What doesn’t work when someone lashes out at you:

Don’t use “I” statements to someone who is grieving the loss of a pet

The almost universal advice about empathic statements is to use an “I” statement to soothe grief.

For example, you might be advised to say something like, “I think you are very sad.” As you have probably experienced, using “I” statements does not soothe someone who is grieving. It just makes things worse.

Recall the last time somebody used an “I” statement on you? How did it make you feel? You probably felt patronized, disrespected, or manipulated.

Here’s the secret: Only use “you” statements to help someone who has lost a pet.

Don’t offer sympathy

Sympathy occurs when you perceive someone else’s distress, and you attempt to comfort them. Sympathy is socially acceptable but is an extremely poor and weak way of dealing with others’ distress.

Typically, sympathy is “I” centered, such as, “I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.” The idea is that an expression of sympathy builds solidarity and support. Common experience teaches us otherwise.

Sympathy is expressed by people who either have no clue about or are feeling deeply anxious around the intense emotions of a person who has lost a pet. Sympathy generally soothes the anxiety of the sympathetic person without validating the pain of the distressed person. Sympathy also allows you to remain emotionally distant from the distressed person.

Don’t emotionally invalidate

Emotional invalidation occurs whenever:

  • We are ignored.
  • We are judged.
  • We are dictated not to feel the way we feel.
  • We are told we shouldn’t feel the way we feel.
  • We are told we are too sensitive, too “dramatic,” or we are “high maintenance.”
  • We are led to believe there is something wrong with us for feeling how we feel.

Do not say:

  • “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • “Your friend is in a happy place now.”
  • “I know you miss him so much.”
  • “It’s ok, you’ll feel better tomorrow.”

These are just a few examples of emotional invalidation. They are devastatingly abusive and insensitive.

In essence, those who think they are trying to help us are actually causing us deep psychic damage.

As human beings, we are 98% emotional and 2% rational. Every behavior, every decision, and every motivation we experience is driven by our emotions. And yet, our culture says that raw emotions are bad. Worse, if we are in a deeply emotional experience, we are called crazy, irrational, menstrual, and worse. The outcome is to deny us that which makes us human.

Trying to problem-solve too early

A lot of people jump to problem-solving as a means of dealing with someone who is mourning the loss of a pet. You must satisfy and listen deeply to emotions before you can even begin to consider about problem-solving. The reason people go to problem-solving is to ease their anxiety in the face of overwhelming sadness.

Melissa Lyons

Melissa Lyons

Life Coach | Author, “Until We Meet Again: From Grief to Hope After Losing a Pet

Take the time to acknowledge the pain your friend is experiencing

By the time I was 20, I think I had lost more pets than many will know in a lifetime. It’s hard because we rarely have a formal process where friends and family can offer us support. I carried my pain in silence for decades.

As I was working on my book, I have also had thousands of conversations with people who have lost their beloved companions. Here are some of my favorite things to say:

“I am sorry for your loss. I know that ___ was part of your family and will be dearly missed. What is your favorite memory that comes to mind?”

  • Take the time to acknowledge the depth of the relationship.
  • If you had the opportunity to know the deceased pet, share a memory or two of your own.

“I cannot feel your pain, but I have felt the pain of loss, and it hurts deeply. I am here for you. What did you love the most about ____?”

  • Take the time to acknowledge the pain your friend is experiencing.
  • If it’s appropriate, share your own experience of going through the loss of your pet and then bring the conversation back to your friend’s pet.

“I know you are hurting since the death of ___. I want to support you. Would you like to walk or talk with me? Please know that I understand the pain you are experiencing and am here for you when you are ready.”

Kriss Kevorkian, PhD, MSW

Founder and CEO, A Grieving World

“I understand you need time to grieve.”

When it comes to the loss of a loved one, we never know what the relationship was like between the person/being who died and the person who is grieving. It’s important not to assume or judge what that relationship was like in any way.

Animal companions offer us such a unique gift of unconditional love that the loss of a beloved companion can feel really sad and painful.

It’s not always easy to know what to say to someone who has lost a loved one.

I’m sorry for your loss is something we hear a lot, and it’s often all that can be expressed in words. The inflection and tone of those words offer the compassion that is needed.

“I know how much he/she meant to you and how connected you two were to one another. I’m here if you need anything.”

For those who knew how much you loved your animal companion, it’s kind to hear from others that they recognized that and feel for you right now. I appreciated hearing those words when I had to say goodbye to my dog, Zorro, last year.

“I understand you need time to grieve.”

I wish more people would say this because what I hear a lot after someone loses an animal companion is, “It’s okay. You can get a new dog.” Seriously? Would you ever say that to someone who lost a human loved one?

Related: What to Say and Not to Say to Someone Who Is Grieving

It’s been almost 13 months since I had to say goodbye to Zorro. We were so connected to one another. Looking back at the day I picked him up from the rescue group, he reached out to me, and that was it.

While I thought he was going to be a companion for my father, Zorro was clearly my lovebug for as long as he was alive. And since I somehow never received that maternal gene for human babies, I do have it for non-human animals. Zorro was like my child. He wasn’t my “fur baby” as some people say. He was my lovebug. And I miss him.

Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR

Christine Scott-Hudson

Licensed Psychotherapist | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Create Your Life Studio | Author, “I LOVE MYSELF: Affirmations For A Happy Life

Validate how painful it is to lose a pet

I met a man from Tibet who told me that dogs live shorter lives than humans do so that they can be our guardians when it is our turn to cross over to the other side. And he said that however we treated our dogs on earth is how our crossing will go, loving and safe or abusive and cruel. This thought has given me great comfort. I hope it gives you some comfort, too.

I’m a Psychotherapist, and when I have sat with the dying, they ALWAYS see their dogs who have passed on in the room before they die.

It can be hard to know what to say to a person grieving the loss of their pet.

Say that you are sorry to hear about their loss. Say that they were a good pet mom or dad. Tell them that their pet knew they were loved. Validate how painful it is to lose a pet. Tell them losing a pet is very difficult. Tell them you care.

Send a card. Tell them it hurts to lose a best friend, no matter the species.

Share a quote.

“Everybody thinks their dog is the best, and nobody is wrong.” Mark Twain

“Dogs lives are too short, that’s their only fault, really.” -Madonna

“Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because, in the case of a pet, you were not pretending to love it. -Amy Sedaris

“Don’t ever apologize or feel silly about crying over a dog. When you lose your best friend, you have every right to be sad about it.” -Mary Tyler Moore

Sending a card will help the person know that you understand their grief is real. It will help them know they are not alone.

Ned Presnall, LCSW

Ned Presnall

Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Professor of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis | Owner, Plan Your Recovery

You should honor their sadness and let them direct the conversation

To understand how to respond to grief, as it applies to not only people, but for pets too, you have to understand attachment. When we repeatedly encounter an object of attachment, our sense of novelty towards this object, be it a person, place, or thing, decreases. It’s replaced with familiarity, which brings us comfort.

This familiarity grows over time — this is why you might enjoy and like a new cat the first few weeks after it joins your family, but you may not grow to feel strong feelings of love and attachment for some time after.

When something is a novelty, it’s easy to grieve. You move on quickly. But if you’ve been attached to a pet for a long time, the loss feels larger. This is why a person can feel little to no grief for a fish after it is swept from the water by the claws of a bird, but feel a great deal of sadness after the death of a pet fish they’ve cared for many months, or even years.

So if your first instinct after a friend loses a pet is to offer to help them pick out a new one, you should probably hold your tongue.

It may take many years to develop the same affection for a new pet that was had for an old pet, and your friend may feel this response is insensitive. Even if you don’t feel like you understand your friend’s loss or why they feel such sadness towards the loss of a pet bird or dog, you should honor their sadness and let them direct the conversation.

There’s no magic thing to say after the loss of a pet, much like there’s no magic thing to say after the loss of a person. You have to recognize that you can’t entirely control the grief and that it will heal with time.

Dr. Patricia Celan

Patricia Celan

Psychiatry Resident, Dalhousie University

Express the same kind of sympathy that you would express if they had lost a human

Many people consider pets to be part of the family, so losing a pet can unsurprisingly be as painful as losing a child or losing a sibling. When someone has lost a pet, it’s safer to assume that the loss is significant.

Statements such as, “You can get a new one!” or, “It’s just a pet!” may be hurtfully dismissive to a person’s grief. Animals have unique personalities and build special bonds with humans, which are not readily replaceable.

In order to make appropriate, supportive comments to someone who has lost a pet, express the same kind of sympathy that you would express if they had lost a human. “I’m sorry for your loss” is a safe, standard starting phrase. Offer to be a shoulder to cry on during this time and truly listen without judgment – even if you don’t understand the connection between humans and pets.

Ask for the pet’s name, rather than referring to him or her by species, to demonstrate your respect for the individuality of the lost life.

Pet owners often express guilt about not treating their pets even better, or they may question if something they could have done would have prevented the pet’s death. As far as you’re able to honestly do given what you know, remind people of the good care that they provided their pet and that their pet felt loved, happy, and had a good life.

Kellie “Casey” Cook

Kellie Cook

Licensed Professional Counselor

“What can I do to support you right now?”

One of the best ways to support a friend or loved one who has lost a beloved pet is to validate their grief. Don’t minimize their pain, and instead let them know you’re a safe person to talk to about their loss.

Pet loss is a type of disenfranchised grief, which is what we call any type of grief that tends to be judged by society as less valid. For many people, though, the loss of a pet can be just as devastating as the loss of a human loved one, and it is important to recognize your friend’s pain. It is difficult for someone to process their grief if everyone around them is downplaying its impact.

Validate the intensity of their pain (e.g., “I know your heart is broken,”) and let them know you aren’t going anywhere (“I’m here to listen, no matter what you need to talk about.”) And then the most important part: do what you say you’ll do. Don’t offer platitudes or insincere promises; offer support then follow through on it.

Never underestimate the power of a simple, “What can I do to support you right now?”

Ask them if they’d like to talk about their pet. If so, be willing to listen. Don’t speak with the aim to cheer them up–the best thing we can do for loved ones after a loss is to let them be sad and express their pain. If you knew their pet, let them know what you loved about him or her.

When we experience a loss, we need to know that our animal mattered and will be remembered. An easy but meaningful way to show your support might be to make a donation to a rescue or shelter in the pet’s memory. Avoid things like suggesting they adopt another pet, as this not only implies their beloved pet could somehow be replaced, but it also dismisses their pain.

Some shelters and veterinary offices offer free pet loss support groups, and this may be something to offer to your friend. Many groups are offering this via video right now, so even if there are no resources near you, it’s likely a remote group would welcome members from outside the area. Just being in a room, physical or virtual, with others who share your loss and understand your pain, can be tremendously validating and helpful.

Do the legwork for your friend and research the groups available in your area, and if it would be helpful to them, offer to attend with them for additional support.

Lauren Cohen

Lauren Cohen

Certified Executive & Relationship Coach, Positive Coaching Now | Lifelong Animal Lover

Use words that demonstrate that you care and offer support

Losing a pet can be overwhelming and devastating. And finding the right words to console someone who loses a pet can be intimidating and difficult. A reason we love our pets so much is the unconditional love they give to us. Showing some unconditional love and care to whoever loses a pet is one of the best ways you can offer support.

I recommend support and statements that are somewhat open-ended. Give the mourner an opportunity to share or allow them to not share if they are more introverted or prefer not to discuss.

People mourn differently, and it is unpredictable how a person might react. Some people are so sad they want to push down their emotions and not discuss anything, so being too probing might upset them. Other people want to connect and have acknowledgment and a forum to speak and bawl.

Do not assume you know how someone will feel or act because people react in surprisingly strong and dramatic ways over the loss of their pets. And it can be unpredictable. Use words that demonstrate that you care. Use words that offer support. You should express condolences and check-in more than once because emotions change day-to-day.

Some things to say to someone who lost a pet:

  • “Would you like to talk about this with me?”
  • “Is there any way I can be helpful to support you through this sad and difficult time?”
  • “You made the right decision (if there was a decision that needed to be made).”
  • “You gave (PET NAME) an amazing life.”
  • “I am so sorry and especially sorry this was so unexpected.” (if unexpected/sudden)
  • “I can’t imagine how you must feel.”
  • “Even if you were told this was going to happen, I know it does not make it any easier.” (If was expected that it was going to happen)
  • “I am so sorry and feel free to cry or talk to me about this anytime.”

There are comments some people think help, but please be careful and do not say:

  • “We all know pets come and go and don’t live so long.”
  • “You can get another one.”
  • “It’s just a dog/cat/bird/pet.”
  • “Stop crying.”

If someone who loses a pet asks you for more guidance, you can let them know that there are rituals and ceremonies families and pet parents sometimes create to help them grieve.

I have crafted these with people who are devastated by the loss of their pets, and it has helped them find meaning, have some closure and still find a way to keep the pet’s memory alive in a meaningful way—a tradition of sorts.

Sara Ochoa, DVM

Sara Ochoa

Veterinary Consultant for DogLab

I usually tell them that I am sorry for the loss of their pet

When someone loses a pet, there are many different ways to help comfort them. I usually tell them that I am sorry for the loss of their pet. All pets have a very special place in our hearts that when they are gone that the pet takes with them.

Many times, their pet may have an incurable disease, and I assure them that if they did have to have their pet euthanized, their decision was the best one. While our pets may be gone, they are no longer suffering or in pain.

While I know this time may be hard, try to remember all the good days and do not dwell on this one bad day. Tell them that it is perfectly fine to morn for the loss of their pet and that after a while, the pain of losing their pet will no longer be there, but there will just be all the great and wonderful memories.

I will start to recall some of the good or funny moments from their pet’s lives. During this time, we will talk about how special their pet was to them and how they all leave a lasting impression on us that we will carry for the rest of our lives.

Matje van de Camp

Matje van de Camp

Founder, Healthy Cat Guide

Getting some acknowledgment of the validity of my grief was helpful

I had two cats, Link and Lordi, both from the same litter. I work from home, so my cats are almost always with me. Link especially would keep me company all day, sitting next to me, meowing out cute conversations. Unfortunately, she passed away last June, just a month shy of her 14th birthday. She had been ill for a while, so it didn’t come as a surprise.

Nevertheless, I felt devastated by not having her with me anymore. And I still do, sometimes.

After it happened, I reached out to my friends for emotional support. I could tell that most of them didn’t really know what to say. They didn’t get much further than “I’m sorry” and “you must feel so sad”, which was fine, honestly. My emotions were going from extreme guilt over having to put my beloved pet down to a weird sort of shame about being so upset over a cat.

Getting some acknowledgment of the validity of my grief was more helpful than my friends probably anticipated.

However, there was one reaction I got that I didn’t appreciate very much. It was along the lines of “just get over it,” only not in such blunt words. I felt hurt hearing that. To just get over it and move on would be a great insult to the role this beautiful creature has played in my life. I took care of her for 14 years. And she was always there for me. Whenever I was hurt or let down (by humans), I could count on her for unconditional love.

That’s a loss that deserves to be grieved over.

Yvette Berke

Outreach Manager, The Little Angels Project

It is okay to be angry, to cry, and yes, to laugh and find joy

As someone who prefers to foster or adopt seniors, I have been asked many times, “how do you do it, they die so soon, and it’s awful.” First, I have to say that everyone grieves differently.

Billions of years ago, when I was in high school, I had a wonderful teacher by the name of Joseph Feinstein, who was a legend at Grant High. He taught students skills like his “life and living class” that forced students to do a budget or care for an egg as a child. One lesson was about death and dying. He knew that during the school year, at least one student would die, a parent, or even a teacher. He said no one taught how to understand and move on, so he did.

He’d start with Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ book on the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The year after I took the class as a senior in High School, I lost my father suddenly. The skills and process he had explained allowed me to understand what I was going through.

Those feelings are no different when you lose a pet.

First, you cannot believe it happened and question everything you ever did. You second guess care or food, or did you miss something. Then you are pissed off at everyone and everything for taking that pet from you. You’re mad at the food manufacturer or the Vet. It’s all normal. Then the loss begins to set in. You are sad and cry and miss everything about them.

Most of us share an incredible bond and love with our pets, and it’s natural to feel grief and sadness when they die. The pain is real, and while some people don’t get it and say things like “get over it, it was just a cat/dog,” you should never feel guilty or ashamed of your feelings. Our pets give us unconditional love and are a daily comfort and joy to us.

Just because they don’t go to college or get married doesn’t mean they aren’t a member of your family. There are some coping skills to get through this.

Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, including yourself. It is okay to be angry, to cry, and yes, to laugh and find joy. Some people choose to get the ashes of their pet back; others don’t. Neither is right or wrong thing to do. If your pet’s favorite spot in the house or yard is hard to go to – that’s okay for now.

Reach out to others who have lost pets. There are Facebook pages, online message boards, pet loss hotlines, and pet loss support groups. Many rescue organizations offer support too. Just like with human death, we want to feel comforted by our friends and family, but sometimes strangers “get it” more. It’s not silly or weird; it’s okay.

Some people feel for closure, and they need a funeral or memorial service. It’s part of the rituals we learn when there is a death. If it feels right for you, do it. If it doesn’t, you are not being disrespectful to the loss.

Did you feel your pet has a legacy? They had a place on your Facebook page or amused neighborhood kids as they sat in the window. Honor that memory. Donate to a rescue in their name or pay a vet bill for someone in need, plant a tree on Arbor Day or do a beach clean-up in their memory and pay that legacy forward.

If your pet wasn’t an “only,” then understand that surviving pets can also experience loss when a pet dies, or they may become distressed by your grief. Maintaining their daily routines, or even increasing exercise and play times, will not only benefit the surviving pets but encourage you to move forward and accept the loss.

Many times, the loss of a pet is the first loss a child will know. If you have children, teaching them it is okay to miss the pet and feel the loss is healthy. Don’t dwell on it but let them know it is part of life. It is an opportunity to show the value of life and love and appreciate people and pets in our lives. Grief and pain and joy are all part of our human experience.

Moving on and going about your normal routines eventually happens. Whether or not to adopt again is a very personal decision. You are not replacing the old pet – you are honoring their memory and love by saving another life. It may be tempting to rush out and fill the void left by your pet’s death by immediately getting another pet. In most cases, it’s best to mourn the old pet first and wait until you’re emotionally ready to open your heart and your home to a new animal.

As long as you understand that the new pet is just that – a new member of your family – and not a “replacement,” do what is right for you.

If you are afraid of the idea of getting another pet because the loss just hurts so bad, then you might want to start by volunteering at a shelter or a rescue group. Many a foster failure happens because you know that one animal needs more care and time, and so you agree to take it for the rescue until it is adopted – then you realize you just can’t live without them. Just know that the need for pets to be fostered is great, and even if you don’t want to adopt, the commitment to take in the animal(s) and care for them, bring them to adoption events, show them love and play – that will get them a home and is so valuable to the rescue enabling them to take in more lives. Some rescues offer Seniors for Seniors Programs so that the older animals aren’t kept in shelters, and since none of us have a crystal ball, we don’t know how long that animal will live.

I took in a 16-year-old that had thyroid problems and she made it to 24 – that was eight years more than the owner that surrendered her could have enjoyed. I mention this because another aspect of caring for our pets should be planning ahead and having a pet savings account or emergency fund.

We enjoy the time we have with our pets, and it is never enough. We get the time we get, and it is okay to grieve when they leave. Pets are our family members and do contribute to our family’s wellness. When they are alive, treat them as family, treat them the best you can, because when they pass on, you can say to yourself that you did it all for your furry family member. You will have no regrets doing this.

Michael Schimmel

Michael Schimmel

CEO, eCondolence

I would recommend mailing a condolence card, a note, an email, or texting a sentiment

For those who have a pet that dies, it is a painful loss. Like a person’s death, it can take time to mourn and find a new normal in the grieving person’s home. Friends and loved ones of the grieving should recognize this loss and provide condolences.

I would recommend mailing a condolence card, a note, an email, or texting a sentiment. The content can read:

Dear XX:
I/we am/are so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog/cat/bird/ (pets name here). Losing a furry/feathery member of a family is so sad and hard. I/We am/are sending strength and hugs to you and your family during this tough time. May (pet’s name) memory bring you warmth, love, and blessings always.

Please let me know if there is anything I/we can do to help.
Warmly,
(sender’s name)

If you prefer to call or to stop by the person’s home, say you’re sorry about their loss, and you know how important (pet’s name) was to the person/family. Then listen.

Listening is a key part of supporting someone who is grieving.

Remember, there is no timeline for grief. Treat this loss to the person as significant unless they tell you otherwise. Check in occasionally with the mourner and offer support.

Daniel Caughill

Daniel Caughill

Co-Founder, The Dog Tale

Tell them it’s okay to feel sad and that you know what they’re going through is hard

Pets are a big part of our lives, and they love us with their whole hearts, their whole lives. Yet, when one dies, many people feel foolish for feeling sad. They feel the need to downplay their sorrow because the pet was “just an animal.”

But the truth is, that animal was a member of their family, a part of their every waking day, and pets bolster us emotionally in ways we still don’t fully understand. So if someone close to you has recently lost a pet, tell them you’re sorry, tell them it’s okay to feel sad, and that you know what they’re going through is hard. Then, be there with them and allow them to feel their sadness.

Embracing this grief is an important part of overcoming it, and it should never be downplayed.

Jenny Massey

Jenny Massey

Owner, Snowy Pines White Labs

You should treat it just as if they had lost a family member

If you are particularly close to the person who lost a pet, you should treat it just as if they had lost a family member, because, for most people, their pet is part of their family.

Make sure to offer condolences, send them a card with flowers or chocolate, and show them that you are there for them if they need it. Even if you are not a pet person, your friend, family member, or loved one who lost their pet is, and expressing your condolences will mean so much to them.

If you have an anecdotal story about you with their pet, remind them of the happy memories you all had together. Pets don’t live as long as humans, and we know this, but the pain hurts just the same. Keeping that pet alive through their memories will help your loved one get through the time of pain.

Christina Cay

Christina Cay

Creator, C’MON MAMA

If someone I know had their pet before becoming a parent, I would always comment on the fact that I know their dog made them a Mom or Dad first. Because I had my own dog for nine years becoming a Mother to my children, I know all too well how the pets that we have during those young adult years are the ones who make us parents.

We take care of them, provide for them, love them, raise them, teach them, snuggle them, take them to the “doctor”…. all the things we later do for and with our children.

Acknowledging that deep bond and rite of passage when someone I love has lost their pet has always been the thing they’ve appreciated the most.

They’re not just losing a pet. They’re not just losing a best friend. They’re also losing their baby. And saying that out loud to them makes them feel understood and justified in their grief.

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