If you have ever lost a pet, then you know how difficult it can be. For many people, the grief can be as intense as that experienced when losing a family member.
As a friend or loved one, it can be hard to know what to say or do to help someone who is experiencing this type of grief–especially if you’re not a pet person. But even if you can’t identify with what it feels like to lose a beloved furry family friend, you can be compassionate and offer your support.
Keep in mind that everyone handles grief differently. Remember, too, that even if you have been through the experience of losing a pet, it may not be the same for the person you are trying to comfort. A natural reaction is to try to compare your experience with theirs and offer advice on how you got through it. Avoid this temptation, though, since it may make the person feel as if you are minimizing their loss. Don’t try to change the subject and don’t make jokes in order to make the person feel better. This can backfire and end up making things worse.
Pet Loss: What to Say To a Grieving Friend or Loved One
It is never easy to know what to say to someone who is grieving. You want to acknowledge their loss and let them know that if they’d like to talk about it, you are there to listen. Words like “I am so sorry for your loss” or simply “I’m so sorry,” are a good place to start. Asking them to tell you about the pet so that they know you are a willing listener can also be a good way to start the conversation. Be sure to refer to the animal by name so that your inquiry is personalized and acknowledges the importance of the loss.
If you are at a loss for words, let the person know that you realize there is nothing you can say that will make them feel better but you want them to know that you are there for them for as long as it takes. Of course, you should mean what you say! Check in with them from time to time to see if there is anything you can do and let them know you are thinking of them.
Sending A Condolence Card When A Pet Has Died
Regardless of the circumstances, sending a card to express your condolences when someone has lost a pet will be appreciated. Receiving the card will let your friend or family member know you are thinking about them and that you appreciate the pain they might be experiencing. You don’t have to write a long letter. Just a few words to express how you are feeling will be enough.
Ideas for Pet Condolence Card Messages
- Thinking about you and [pet’s name]. If there is anything you need just let me know.
- We can never keep them long enough! You are in our thoughts and prayers.
- Wishing you comfort and peace during this difficult time.
- I am so sorry for your loss. [Pet’s name] will be greatly missed.
- [Pet’s name] was such a great [dog/cat/etc.]. He/she was lucky to have chosen you as his family.
- Losing such an important part of the family is never easy. I’m thinking about you. Don’t hesitate to call me if you’d like to talk.
- I know you miss [pet’s name] terribly. I’m thinking about you and sending thoughts and prayers.
- You and [pet’s name] were so lucky to have found each other. He/she will be greatly missed.
Other Ways to Show Support
If you would like to do a little something more than just send a card, there are things you can do. Here are a few ideas.
- Send a memorial gift such as a personalized wind chime, jewelry, or garden stone
- Send flowers or a plant
- Donate in the pet’s name to a pet assistance organization or shelter
Regardless of what you do, you should keep an eye open to make sure that the person you are offering your condolences to is not in any danger. If you feel they may need professional help to navigate their grief, offer contact information on support groups in your area. Our Pet Loss Resources page is a good place to start. There are many hotlines that are ready to take calls when needed. We also offer general information on how to handle grief on our Path to Healing page.