Going through the death of a pet can be devastating. As members of our family, their death can be just as difficult as losing a human loved one. When a pet dies, the grief that follows is valid and painful—although it is something that some people can’t fully understand.
Pets bring so much to our lives because their unconditional love is a source of so much joy and connection. Because of this, trying to talk to a friend who is mourning their beloved pet can feel a little tricky. But as long as you remember that grief is grief, no matter who has died, you can navigate the conversation and be there for your friend.
Although not everyone may want to talk about their pet, especially if the loss is new, there will come a time when they’ll want to talk about how wonderful their pet was and how much they’re hurting. Give your friend the time and space to do that.
No one really wants to hear that their pet is “in a better place now” or about your experience with loss — it’s not about you and this isn’t the time for that. This is the time to listen closely, choose your words wisely, and offer your support in a caring and loving way.
If you and your friend are close, then you’ve probably met the pet before and have memories of them too. Share those memories with your friend, letting them know that you thought their pet was special too.
We honor lives lost when we use their name even after they pass away. So instead of saying, “your dog” or “your cat,” use the pet’s name.
Even if you see your friend regularly, sending your condolences, just as you would for any other death, is an important part of your friend’s healing. Whether it’s a card, a donation made in their pet’s memory, or flowers. It’s important to recognize their grief, and sending your condolences is a good way to do that.
Sadly, when a pet passes away, their life isn’t celebrated in the way we celebrate the lives of humans. There’s no wake or funeral, and these are essential things for the healing process. Offering to help do a ceremony or memorialization with your friend for their pet is a great way to give them the closure they need.
There’s no timeline for grief and everyone grieves differently. With this in mind, continue to check in with your friend, remind them that you’re there for them through their whole grieving process and beyond. It’s important that people who have experienced such a loss know that their friends will be there to vent to, cry to, or give them an ear when they want to talk about what their pet meant to them ●
Grief isn’t a feeling. It’s a process. Everyone experiences it differently, and you are the only one who can feel your feelings. But some understanding may help you come to grips with what you are going through.