Losing a beloved pet can is desvasting & heart wrenching.
It's important to be mindful of what to say or not to say when a pet parent has lost their furry baby.
I, unfortunately, had to say goodbye to three wonderful dogs, Oscar, Katie, and Duquesa. When I lost Oscar, about 7 years ago, a week after saying goodbye to him, I went to work and I wasn't myself. One co-worker, in particular, noticed I wasn't myself and I told him "I, unfortunately, put down my dog last week" his words were "it was just a dog" and laughed.
I'll never forget those words or who said them to me. The wounds were so fresh, my boy that I lived with for 17 years was no longer there, routines were different, the house was quieter, and quite frankly I was feeling alone because no one was really understanding the pain I was going through.
Oscar to me was not just a dog, he was the family companion, the one that loved giving us kisses, my teddy bear who I cuddled with at night. He wasn't just a dog.
Grief can be very complex, it's important to approach the situation in a sensitive way. I have put together some helpful tips on "what to say and do" and "what to avoid saying and doing" when someone has lost their furry baby.
What To Avoid
HE / SHE WAS JUST A DOG
Correction - their rabbit, dog, cat, or horse was a family member. They represented unconditional love, their rock, their best friend. Their beloved pet was there for them in the highs and lows. So it wasn't just a dog, he or she was a family member.
YOU CAN ALWAYS GET ANOTHER...
No, you can't always go there and replace him or her right away. To some pet parents, it might take a long time. Let them do it within their own time. And remember, their pet was not a material possession, it was their unconditional love.
YOU HAVEN'T MOVED ON YET
Grieving can be different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to process grief.
That is why being sensitive to the matter is important. Offering them a shoulder to cry at their difficult moment, might just be the best you can do.
THEY WERE OLD ANYWAYS
Just because their pet was old, it doesn't make it any easier for them. The situation can still be very traumatic.
Things to say & do to comfort a grieving pet parent
Do you know of the odds of someone receiving a sympathy card when they lose their pet...zero
a heartfelt note makes a lovely gesture to someone in grief. It shows that you are thinking of them in this difficult time.
HELP THEM FIND PET GRIEVE SUPPORT
They are a lot of organizations out there that can help with pet grief support. Reach out to veterinary clinics or shelters, they can provide and guide you with the right information. Sometimes all people need is a hand to help them with their healing process
LISTEN TO THEM
Sometimes all they need is a shoulder to cry and to tell stories of their beloved pet. Be there for them, listen to them talk and hug them.
DONATE TO A SHELTER IN THEIR PETS NAME
What a beautiful gesture would that be, donating in a deceased pet's name. You are helping another pet that is in the shelter and also keeping the deceased animal's memories alive.
As a pet photographer, pet grief specialist, and a pet parent myself take this issue very seriously. I am always there for my clients. I have received private messages on social media from people I have never met asking for support and I don't ignore them. I am constantly checking on them and on my past clients because it's important to me to know how they are doing.
There are no perfect words to ease their pain, but showing comfort and support is the best thing you can do in their difficult time.
I hope you found these tips helpful.
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