- The feelings of grieving a pet are similar to the feelings of other forms of grief and loss.
- When someone's pet dies, refrain from saying, "Move on and get over it," or "It was only an animal; you can always get another."
- Things you could say when someone's pet dies are, "I am so sorry for your loss," or "I wish there were words that could help."
Just like any kind of death, the death of a pet can be very difficult. Pet owners grieve just like anybody else when a death happens. According to Tufts University – Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, we should not say certain things to grieving pet owners.
Let’s take a quiz.
Which example would you choose to say to someone who is grieving?
- He/she’s not suffering anymore.
- At least you got to have him/her for as long as you did.
- You gave him/her a good life.
- Give it some time.
- Better not to say any of these.
- All of the above are good, comforting things to say.
What did you choose? The correct answer is 5. Truthfully, we should not give any of these answers to someone grieving except for number five. Otherwise, it can come across like you are telling them how they should feel about the death, you aren't really providing comfort, and you could make matters worse.
For example, if you were to tell someone their pet or human loved one, lived a long life, that certainly doesn’t help their grief, because it is never a good time to have someone die, no matter how long they have lived.
Death is very difficult and sad for anyone, whose pet died. The best thing someone can do for the bereaved person is to acknowledge their emotional pain rather than telling them to “Move on” or “Get over it.” Telling them they can always get another one, or it was only an animal, is not helpful to someone grieving.
So, what should you say to a grieving pet owner? Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine recommends consoling someone by saying:
- “I am so very sorry for your loss."
- “I wish there were words that could help.”
- “I miss him, too. I love how he used to (insert “jump on the couch,” “steal food,” “play with his toys,” etc.)
- “If you need anything, I am here.” (Be sure you are).
- “I know how much you loved him/her.”
- Don’t talk. Just hug or simply sit with the person. Some people do not want a hug from anyone. Please remember to ask them if it is ok if you hug them.
Try and think first, and ask yourself, "What would I want someone to say if my pet died?" Remember, pets are a big part of people's families, so don’t make light of their loss.
Consider bringing the family a meal or something that might bring them comfort. What you do for the bereaved, whether due to the death of a human loved one or a pet loved one, is appreciated and it means a lot that you care enough to acknowledge their loss. Thanks, and Blessings to all of you who take the time to appreciate someone's difficult loss.
Tufts University- Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine