6 Steps to Comfort Someone Grieving the Loss of a Pet
Posted by Laser Linda on 7th Aug 2015
When someone loses their beloved dog or cat, it’s hard to know what to do. While this life event can’t be equated with the loss of a person, there is still pain and grieving. So here is a list of 6 things you can do to bring comfort:
1. Acknowledge the Loss. People are often afraid to say anything in painful situations, but they are especially silent when a pet dies. This is the wrong approach. It is important to validate the feelings of an animal lover by telling them you know they are coping with a pet loss and you care for them. Don’t ignore a friend who seems depressed after an animal dies; now is the time to drop a note, pick up the phone, or visit.
2. Allow them to Share Memories of their Pet. Let your friend or loved one show you their favorite dog or cat photos and share stories of the experiences they had as the pet’s “person.” Every pet has a unique “pawsonality” and serves a useful purpose in their person’s life. Honor the pet’s memory with your friend by listening and letting them share all their tales with you.
3. Try to Keep the Pet Memories Happy. Sometimes if a pet was ill or elderly there will be recent memories of vet visits or tragedies or some suffering. It is important to remember further back to times when the pet was healthy and happy and living the fulfilled life that the pet’s person helped provide. You can help to steer the conversation more in this direction. Help your friend recollect all the good times they enjoyed with their pet.
4. Plan some Outings. Be sure your friend doesn’t stay cooped up at home staring at the same four walls and dwelling so much on the deceased pet that they can’t move on. While it’s important to grieve properly and deal with loss, it’s also important to get out and live life and not get stuck in a gloomy state of mind. It’s OK to feel extremely sad over the loss of a pet, but recovery comes through interacting with others and re-engaging in activities.
5. Remind them of How Great the Pet’s Life Was. If someone is dealing with a pet loss, that means they cared for that pet. So that means there was a caring person in that dog’s or cat’s life. And that means that dog or cat must have had a pretty great life on this earth. A life that was much better because they had that person, and a life many pets would dream of. It’s important to remember that as an animal lover, a person gives a pet a wonderful life, and that’s a very good thing.
6. Encourage Finding a Replacement Pet (But DON’T actually provide one!). The death of pet is a natural part of life, and although the deceased pet had a personality that can never be replaced, getting a new pet can actually help shorten the grieving process and provide a fresh outlook. Consider looking at a local animal shelter: this is an opportunity to provide a great life for yet another beautiful animal in need of a loving home. But NEVER purchase a pet as a surprise for someone else, this is almost always a terrible idea. Let your friend or loved one find and make their own connection with a new pet when they are ready.
Comforting a friend or family member who is coping with the loss of pet involves acknowledgement, listening, positive communication, engaging in activities, honoring the pet’s memory and encouragement. Taking these steps not only brings comfort after the death of pet, but also creates a strong bond of friendship and love that will be there during good times and bad.