The loss of a pet is as devastating to the owner as if it was a person, anyone who has ever lost a pet can relate to this.
Knowing what to say to a friend at this sad time can be difficult and even overwhelming, especially more so in the case if you're not an animal lover yourself.
You may be lost to know what to say and do at this time, hopefully this article will give you advice on how to understand your friend and to help them to come to terms with the loss of their beloved companion.
Firstly let's look at what not to say to a friend who has lost their pet.
What Not To Say...
Here are a few things of what not to say at this difficult time...
- Never say "it's just a dog or cat", remember this pet was your friends companion and a huge part of their family.
- Never say; "Are you going to get another one", or even worse "replacement". This will be the last thing on your friends mind at the moment, their pet can never be replaced.
- Never refer to their pet as a dog or cat, your friend's pet had a name, so ensure you use it.
- Never say; "Get over it", this is one of the worst things you can say to someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one.
Finding The Right Words To Say
Finding the right words is never easy, and you may worry about saying the wrong things, here are some ideas to help you say the right things to help comfort your friend:
- I am so sorry for the loss of (pet's name)
- (Pets name) couldn't have asked for a better owner
- (Pets name) was so lucky to have you as their owner
- I am here for you
- Take as much time as you need
- I wish there was something I could say or do to make this better
Recognising Your Friends Behaviour
Following the loss of your friends pet, they may feel guilt, for example feeling like they could have done more, or done something differently.
They may also be in denial, feel angry and depressed, all these symptoms are perfectly normal when losing a loved one and a pet is no different.
By recognising this behaviour, you can help your friend come to terms with their loss and also help them focus on the happy memories they shared with their furry friend.
Give Your Friend Time To Grieve
Time is a great healer, and it's important you allow your friend time to grieve for the loss of their companion.
As mentioned earlier, the loss of a pet is no different than the loss of a person and they will go through many different emotions as they come to terms with their loss.
Take the time to reassure your friend how much they cared for their pet, and how good they were to them, as this can be very consoling for them.
Grieving is a process with no set timescale, everyone is different and the grieving process can be anything from weeks to years. Be there for your friend, they need you.
It goes without saying, your friend will need your full support at this time, be there for them, be sympathetic and caring, and most of all give them your full support.
Take the time to listen to them, let them laugh, cry, whatever they need to do to get through this difficult time in their life. Offer a hug if you feel it is appropriate, even a hand on their shoulder will go a long way.
If you are struggling to find the right words, send them a condolence card or some flowers, and tell your friend how much you are thinking of them.
Keeping Their Memory Alive
Although time heals, your friend will never forget their beloved companion. There may come a time that your friend doesn't mention them so much as life moves forward, but this doesn't mean they haven't stopped hurting, or have forgotten about them, they never will.
Help your friend keep their pet's memory alive, by sharing a picture of them together, or reminding them of a funny memory they had together.
You could also write a tribute to your friends pet in your own words, showing your understanding and support.
Let them know it's ok to talk about them and smile about the good times they shared together, and help them celebrate the life of their loved one.
The following articles may help you understand how your friend is feeling at this difficult time:
Loss of Your Pet: How to Cope with the Grief
We hope this article has helped you to understand your friends behaviour and what to say to them during this difficult time.
Remember, be kind, be sympathetic, and most of all be there for them and offer your support to help them come to terms with their loss, one day you may need the same in return.