No one person grieves the same meaning there isn’t a specific list of exactly what to do when it comes to helping a friend or family member deal with the loss of their pet. You should however be sensitive and understanding. For a lot of pet owners they feel as if they lost a family member. Most dogs live on average 10 to 13 years; that is a long time to have a companion in your life that is no longer with them.
What you definitely should NOT do
- Do not, I repeat DO NOT, ask them when they are going to get another dog. When they are ready they will talk about getting another dog, but the solution to grieving a lost pet is not to replace it with another.
- Do not buy them another dog. Just don’t do it, okay.
- Don’t say things like “How old was he?” “Oh well he had a good long life.” - Yes it was a good long life, no this does not help your grieving friend.
- Don’t say “I can’t even imagine losing my dog”. All this does is remind your family member that your pet is alive and their’s is not.
How to help
- Let your friend or family member know that you are there for them. Let them know that they have a shoulder to lean on and that they are not alone! Trust me- it goes a long way.
- Listen, listen, listen! If they want to talk about their pet, listen. If you knew their pet offer up a fun story that will make your friend smile! It’s nice to know that others enjoyed their pet too!
- If you know they have a favorite picture of their dog- get it framed!