Losing a pet can be a harrowing experience for pet parents. Almost every parent has detested the idea of keeping a pet. But, once a cat or a dog enters their life, they get attached to the little fur ball. Every major event can indeed bring grief into your life, especially the loss of a pet. For a pet parent, this grief is colossal.
The question is – How to help someone with a loss of a pet? Even if you DO have the best intention, you are still in a dilemma of what to say when someone loses a pet. In this article, we have put together some ways you can help pet parents move on and feel better.
Encouraging ‘Healthy’ Grieving
Grief is natural, and that’s why it is essential to encourage ‘healthy’ grieving. Not every pet parent feels the same emotion. Some might be in denial, and others may dive into depression. However, there are five stages of personal grief:
1. Denial: How did it happen? She/he is still here! It is not possible.
2. Anger: You are responsible for his death. I should have taken better care of him/her.
3. Bargaining: Please bring him/her back to me. I will do anything to have him/her here.
4. Depression: I feel like crying all the time. I remember every action of his/her.
5. Acceptance: He/she has gone. Maybe they are in a better space.
As a friend, family, or well-wisher, you must listen to their feelings. Allow them to talk to you, and let them be alone for some time. Grieving is normal, but you should encourage them to tell you how they feel.
Help Them Get On With Their Lives
Losing a pet can be difficult. When people are grieving, they tend to skip meals and forget about their daily chores.
If you are a neighbor or live close by, supply food to your loved ones. Visit them, and offer to cook a comforting meal. Warm soup can be highly satisfying. You can also help your loved ones to finish daily tasks.
Another thing you can do for them is to pack their pet’s belongings such as beds, water bowls, food dispensers, blankets, kitten/puppy clothing, and leash. Donate these items to animals who might need them.
Avoid Saying The Wrong Things
Maybe you have never kept a pet, so you are not aware of the grief it brings.
Avoid saying the following things:
• When will you get another pet?
• It was just a dog/cat/rabbit.
• Move on! It happens.
• That’s why I never bring any pets!
These are insensitive statements that can worsen the situation. You have to be an understanding friend/family/colleague/companion during this phase.
Soothing Words Can Help
Talk about things that the pet parent used to do with their fur ball.
Remind them about the fun times. Perhaps you can show some old pictures of their pet.
Soothing words like, ‘I understand’ and ‘I’m here for you’ are quite helpful.
Joining a Support Group
There are pet loss support groups everywhere. You can introduce your friend to these support groups. When your friend/colleague/family member talks about their pain with fellow pet parents, they will be able to relate and share their own experience.
Extend a helping hand and say pleasant and soothing things to the pet parent. They are going through a whirlwind of emotions, which is not the time to say insensitive things.
Moreover, give them time to cope with the loss. If the pet parents cry or see their pet’s photo repeatedly, let them do so.
It will take some time to forget the happy memories. After all, pets make our lives meaningful and stress-free. Forgetting the pet is not possible, but the grief will fade away in due course of time.