You might have a friend, co-worker, or family member who has had a beloved pet recently pass away. You want to say something to them to make them feel better, but you don’t want to say something that will make them feel worse. Or maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all?
Grief is grief and when you go through it, you always want to know people care. Below are some things to say and not to say when you find yourself in this sensitive situation.
Things to Say…
“I’m here for you if you want to talk or just sit for a while.”
This simple statement shows you care but allows them to dictate on their own terms if and when they are ready to talk about it. Just knowing that there is someone they can call on will mean the world to them.
“I’ve lost a pet before and I know there is really nothing to say that will make it right. Just know I truly empathize with you.”
There really is no set thing to say that will make losing a pet less painful. Showing you have past experience without going into your own story (which makes it more about you), they can see that they are not alone, and other people have experienced and gotten through the grief process. Of course, if they ask about your experience tell them what happened and what worked for you to get you through it.
“Can I help with a memorial service or are you creating a fundraiser in memoriam that I can donate to?”
This is really a pro-active way to show that you really care. Also, it shows that you understand how profound a loss this is. If they decide to do a fundraiser in memoriam to a local no-kill shelter, for example, offer to run it and promote via social media. Or plan on attending a memorial service to show your support.
Things NOT to Say…
“I’m sorry your pet died. When do think you’ll be ready to get a new one?”
Yes, some people are insensitive even when they don’t mean to be. Suggesting that a pet is so easily replaced is insulting. A person who says this is usually just wanting to see your grief go by quickly and it makes them uncomfortable. They are not being mean or cruel, simply insensitive.
“What happened to them?”
Most pet owners don’t want to get into the details of their pet passing especially if it was recent. Pushing them for the back story is not showing support. When they are ready to talk, they will. For now, just let them know you are there.
“Are you sure you did the right thing?”
This involves having to make the bitter choice of putting an animal down. That choice is never easy and questioning their decision is nothing short of cruel. No one takes ending an animal’s life (especially a beloved pet) as anything short of monumental. Respect whatever choice they made and when they made it.
Approaching someone who recently lost a pet is never easy. Sometimes just a pat on the shoulder or a quick hug is all you can do. However, if you want to make sure that you are truly there for them, be sure to choose your words carefully.
Also, if you want to take it a step further, there are some wonderful gifts that you can give them. There is an amazing Pet Loss Box from Parting Tails that is highly recommended, and you can find it here.