Many pets are more closely bonded to one family member than another, and therefore, family members often grieve the loss of a pet very differently. Often, people will feel at a loss for how to help a friend who has lost a pet because they have never had a pet of their own. Following are some suggestions on how you might support a loved-one or friend who is grieving the loss of a pet.
• Listen without judging or offering advice.
• Realize that sitting quietly while a person is crying can be very helpful. Many people feel like they have to say something to make their loved-one “feel better” and this is not the case.
• Avoid all clichés or words of wisdom. While well intended, these are often very hurtful.
• If you want to help in some way, offer to do shopping, cleaning, or activities your loved-one might not have the energy to do.
• Talk about the pet. This will actually help your loved-one to feel better.
• Write down something you remember and liked about the pet and give it to the person whose pet died. This will bring back good memories and will show your concern and compassion.
• Try not to expect your loved-one to express his or her grief in a certain manner. Each person grieves differently and will take a different amount of time to heal.
• Respect your loved-one’s wish for space or time alone.
• Do not try to talk the person into getting another pet right away. Each person must decide for himself/herself when the time is right.