Pet Loss

How to Sympathize with Someone Who Lost a Pet?

pet.loss.jpgLast month, we lost our three dogs to sickness. We only have three and my mom is keeping them as her company (she is a widow). Upon confirming that they are dead, she locked herself in her room. My brothers and sister asked me why she was acting weird.

To lose a pet is an overwhelming experience – what more if you lose three? However, most of our families and friends wouldn’t understand the grief that losing a pet can give. Most people don’t recognize it as a painful experience because a pet is considered as irreplaceable. However, like my mom, she has been with our dogs for the last 7 or 8 years and when I asked why she’s crying, she said no longer have someone sitting next to her while she’s drinking her coffee in the morning!

Ways to Sympathize

For my mom, her dogs were not just dogs that she feeds every day. They were her family. For us to sympathize, we told her to get a new dog or two if she wants. What we don’t know is, asking her to do such doesn’t help. Here are some things that you might want to consider in sympathizing with a friend or a loved one who lost a pet.

  • Say little but as meaningful as you can – just say you are sorry for her loss or say ‘condolence’. There is no need to say things such as ‘it is just a dog’ or ‘let’s replace it with a cuter one’
  • Listen – this is something that we always forget to do – listen. Because we think that it was just a dog or a cat, we want to say how immature it is to cry over an animal thinking that it comforts them, my brother said so to my mom and I know it didn’t help her a bit
  • Tell her or him how lucky their pet was – if your chance comes up to talk, say positive things such as ‘whitey is so lucky to have you as her owner’ or ‘brownie was never hungry because of you’. When doing so, call their pet’s name, don’t say ‘your dog or cat was lucky to have you’
  • Reminisce – they say that remembering is the first step to accepting that someone is gone. Ask her the with your friend or relative’s feeling. If you think they will take your funny message the wrong, do not send it.questions that can lead to stories about her or his pet. Let her reminisce the happy memories as it will help her accept the fact that whitey is now gone
  • Send a sympathy note or card – you can now find sympathy notes and cards for someone who lost a beloved pet. There are also poems for lost pets that you can write and send to your friend

Tips When Sending Sympathy Messages

When sending a sympathy card or a simple text message to a friend who lost a pet, remember the following tips to make the message feels sincere and personal.

  • Say something about the pet’s specific behavior
  • When sharing a story, use the name of the pet and not the generic term such as ‘your dog’ or your cat’
  • If you can send a small token or gift, do so. Small gifts can mean support
  • Write something about the pet in a positive tone or use humor as you see fit

Is It Okay to Send Funny Pet Sympathy Card or Message?

A pet’s death is emotionally devastating. We might not see how it affects the grieving person physically, but we can tell by their action if they are affected with it emotionally. For this time, use your discerning power if it is okay to send funny sympathy messages. Funny sympathy messages can help to lighten up someone’s mood while at the same time feeling your concern.

In fact, I tried it with my mom last month. I sent her a message via text telling her that if she misses Bogart, one her dogs, she can have me from time to time. She replied and said that I am no dog and that Bogart doesn’t ask her to cook special recipes. If you decide to send such message, be sensitive to your friend or relative’s feeling. If you think they will take your funny message the wrong, do not send it.

Words That You Don’t Say to Someone Who Lost a Pet

For someone who doesn’t own any animal or pet, sympathizing with someone who just lost a pet is not easy. If you cannot sympathize, at least know the basic words that you can’t just say to someone who lost a furry friend. Here are some words that you shouldn’t just blurt out:

  • Avoid saying ‘I know how you feel’ when in fact your friend knew that you hate pets
  • Avoid telling your friend to wait for time to heal and fill the void of losing his or her furry friend
  • Avoid telling your friend that his or her pet is now in a better place. As a pet owner myself, I know that the best place for my Garfield is in our home
  • Avoid comparing your friend’s experience with someone else. Don’t say ‘Jess dogs all died within a year, you are lucky you only have one dog that passed away this year’
  • Avoid saying ‘if only’ such as ‘if only you gave whitey this or that’ or ‘fed whitey this or that’
  • Avoid saying ‘all dogs are the same, let’s find another one tomorrow’

Above all, do not give someone who is grieving a pep talk on how to act after losing a pet. If you cannot sympathize, then it is best to observe proper grieving etiquette and let your grieving family member or friend be.

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