How to Help Someone Who’s Grieving the Loss of a Pet

Saying goodbye to a pet is terribly hard ó and sometimes it’s difficult to know how to help a friend or family member who’s going through this grieving process.

Even with the best intentions, you might say the wrong thing or be unsure of what to do for that person. So weíve pulled together a few simple ways you can be a real help, plus advice for avoiding pitfalls when someone you love is heartbroken over the loss of a pet.

Encourage Healthy Grieving

Itís important to remember that grief is a natural reaction to the loss of a pet and that everyone experiences the range of emotions that come with it differently. You may be familiar with the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Let your friend know that you are there to listen and that itís completely normal to grieve a pet as you would a person. Allow the pet owner to open up about her feelings and the special bond she shared with the animal.

Help Them Take Care of Themselves

Often people who are grieving can lose sight of their own well-being, both physically and emotionally. You can help by supplying food thatís comforting and healthy, like fruit and vegetables or a nice, warm soup, as well as other necessities. You may also offer to help with tasks that would be difficult to face, like picking up the petís ashes or packing away the pet’s toys.

Say the Right Things

Saying the right things often means avoiding saying the wrong things. Those include asking when one will†get another animal,†minimizing the loss by saying it was ďjust a dogĒ or “just a cat,” telling the person to move on, or saying that heartbreak is why you donít have pets, among other things. Youíre best off offering your love and lending an ear.

Remember the Happy Times

Sometimes words can help, like if you have a happy memory of the pet to share. At first, memories may be painful to recall, Dr. Marty Becker writes. But later they can make someone smile or laugh at a beloved petís antics ó like the things the dog chewed up as a puppy, what it was like to bring the pet home for the first time, or their excitement about a place they loved to visit together.

Suggest a Support Group

If your friend is still struggling after some time, consider suggesting a pet loss support group, Dr. Patty Khuly writes. These groups can be found in many communities, and your veterinarian may be able to help you find one. There are also pet loss hotlines available through the ASPCA and Tufts University, and you can find staffed pet loss support chat rooms through pet memorial websites.

By Amy Sinatra Ayres |

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Jeramie D
Jeramie Dabout a year ago

Our nanny ran over my little dog while I was away on a trip. When the family returned we asked where for Sheba and learned the terrible news that she was dead. My nanny said, why are you so upset? It's not like I ran over one of your children. I was devastated.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jan L.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Peggy B.
Peggy B3 years ago

Joy T. I lost my beloved Yorkie 6 years ago and miss her every day. After 2 years of waiting for the grief to subside I realised it never would, but I decided to go to the shelter and give another dog a forever home. This one is a Staffie cross and I am so happy she is in my life. I still miss my Yorkie, but a bit easier to bear. If you want a puppy there are puppies in shelters.

Joy T.
Joy T3 years ago

Oops! Make that *new*... :P

Joy T.
Joy T3 years ago

I think I need to find a group... (It's been almost 4 years... ) Or, a mew puppy might help!

Karen K.
Karen K3 years ago

It's hard to lose a member of the family.

Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

I lost two of my kitties in 2015. Only Sophie (cover pic) remained. The cats were 15 and 16 so had been with me a long time. When the time was right I went to a shelter and brought home Stanley. He was a year old and gets along great with 5 year old Sophie. You never forget or stop missing previous pets but I've found saving another brings home more love for all.

Neville B.
Neville B3 years ago

With Fred L. on this, and especially for rescue pets.

Hent catalina - maria