The death of a pet is just as difficult to handle as the death of a human family member. Showing sympathy to a grieving pet owner demonstrates that you care about the person's grief, helps validate the loss and comforts the other person.
Give the grieving person a sympathy gift. Place the pet's collar and favorite toys in a shadow box that showcases the items. A framed picture of the owner with the pet would also be a nice touch. Pet grave markers, engraved garden stones and pet cremation jewelry are other personalized options for sympathy gifts.
Make a donation in the pet's name. If the pet suffered from a certain disease, donate funds in the pet's name to an organization that specializes in that medical issue. If not, donate funds to the bereaved owner's favorite animal charity or a local animal shelter. Have the charity send acknowledgment to the grieving pet owner.
Share fond, personal memories of the pet with the grieving owner. Be sure to use the pet's name and not refer to the pet as "the cat" or "your dog." Say personal, heartfelt things like, "I'll always remember how Spot enjoyed playing ball with you" or "I'll miss seeing you curled up on the sofa with Fluffy."
Be there for the bereaved individual. Sometimes all a person needs is to spend a little time with somebody who offers a sincere ear and a shoulder to cry on. Hugging the person also shows quiet support and encourages healing.
Write a sympathy letter to the pet owner. Include details of a special memory you have of the pet with the owner or certain personality quirks that made that pet so special.
Send a sympathy card to the grieving owner. Several greeting card lines make sympathy cards specifically for pet owners, and you can easily make one yourself. Whether your card is store-bought or homemade, include a short message or poem to personalize the card.
Tell the grieving owner about support websites for those who are mourning the loss of a pet. Some websites such as the Rainbow Bridge site allow individuals to make tribute pages for their beloved pets and read the tribute pages created by other grieving pet owners.
Keep it simple. Sometimes the simplest phrases provide the most comfort. If you aren't sure what to say, consider "I'm so sorry for your loss" or "I know you are devastated and you have my sincere condolences." Choose your words carefully whether you are talking to the bereaved pet owner in person, in a letter or on the phone.
- If you live near the pet owner, make cookies or a meal to share with them.
- Understand that the grieving process is different for everyone. Never minimize the feelings of the owner by telling them they should be "over it."
- Remember that you can't fix the situation, so don't tell the grieving person what they need to do to feel better or even what they should be feeling.
- Don't compare the pet owner's loss to how you felt when your pet died. Comparing deaths is never helpful.
- Never suggest that a person can get over the loss of a pet by getting another one.
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