If you have a friend who’s recently lost a pet, you may be at a loss for how to comfort them. Nearly everyone accepts that a long grieving process is normal when suffering the loss of a friend or family member, but what many don’t understand is that losing a pet can be just as painful.
Our attachment to pets is natural, as humans have lived alongside animals for thousands of years. Today, we might not lean on our companions for survival, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less loved or important to us. Not only do our pets offer companionship, but they also offer mental and physical health benefits, as you many already know.
If you aren’t an animal lover, or were raised to see pets as just animals rather than family members, it can be tough to empathize with your friend. Fortunately, you don’t need to feel their pain to offer grief support, and that support doesn’t have to cost money.
The best thing you can do for your friend is to offer an ear to listen or shoulder to cry on. Everyone’s grief journey is unique, so it’s best to stay clear of the phrase “I know how you feel.” Also, don’t try to minimize or fix your friend’s pet loss. Offer a judgment-free space even if they say something that you don’t understand. When in doubt, patiently listen.
Ask what you can do
Choosing the best course of action isn’t always easy when dealing with a grieving friend or family member. However, there are some basic ways you can provide for them through this difficult time. Grieving people often forget to eat or go grocery shopping, so picking up some essentials or cooking a meal can go a long way.
If that’s not your style, simply offering your friend or family member some company is always a great way to show your support. Instead of making assumptions for what the best course of action is, let your friend or family member know you are there to help and support them in any way possible.
Sharing memories is one of the best ways to remember a lost pet. Ask your friend for stories about them, or if you have positive stories, share them. If your friend is like most pet owners, it’s likely that their social media feeds are filled with pictures of their pet. Commenting on those pictures, even if it’s a simple “he was so sweet, I’ll miss him” can be an immense comfort.
Donate to an animal shelter
Donating to an animal shelter in your friend’s name is a fantastic way to show your support. If you believe your friend might adopt a pet in the future, ask the shelter if you can purchase a gift certificate or put credit toward their next adoption. It’s best to ensure there is no expiration date when you do this, as you don’t want to pressure them to move on before they’re ready.
Memorialize your friend’s pet with a gift
If your friend’s pet was cremated, consider purchasing a memorial gift for some or all of the ashes. A unique piece of cremation jewelry will prove that you know their beloved pet will always be close to their heart. A custom portrait, a photograph, a decorative urn or flower vase are all beautiful ways to keep the memories of their lost pet alive.