After the heartache of pet loss, whether at home or at a Veterinary Hospital, friends and family often stumble to find the right words to say. Losing a pet is a day every pet parent dreads. Try to stay away from these Top 5 worst things to say to someone who just lost a pet because many pet owners consider their beloved dog, cat, bird and other animals as family members and feel their loss as deeply as a human companion. You may have the best of intentions; however, some things are better left unsaid. If you find yourself needing to comfort a grieving pet parent or a friend, let our experience help you out.
Top 5 worst things to say to someone who just lost a pet
1) “I understand how you feel”
Even if you’ve experienced a similar loss, every loss is deeply personal. When a friend is grieving, keep in mind that right now it is about their pet and the void they feel. Try not to bring up the time you lost your dog and how you felt. Why is it so bad to say this? Because it lets the grieving person feel you’re not empathetic to their pain. Your friend cannot think right now about your loss. Even though you mean well, let them know you care by making it about them. Every loss affects people on different levels, depending on life’s circumstances and prior losses.
2) “Well, they don’t live forever”
Your friend already knows this fact and wishes it were not true! This comment often comes from a person who may have never felt the deep sorrow from losing a pet. This reminder shows insensitivity and can even make your grieving friend feel worse. Even when you don’t share their feelings, being supportive can help your friend through their grief.
3) “He was ‘just’ a dog – or cat, bird, rabbit, ferret, fish”
#1 Worst thing a grieving pet lover can hear! Your friend needs to know they’re not crazy for feeling so bad over losing a dog or cat. This may feel judgmental. It’s the difference between people who feel that animals are important family members, and those who don’t. It can be as polarizing as politics to people who love their pets. It is a “minimizing” statement and will make a grieving person feel bad when they most need understanding. This is the worst of the top 5 worst things to say to someone who just lost a pet.
4) “You can get another one”
There is no replacement for your friend’s beloved pet. Making it sound like their particular animal can simply be replaced with another and it will be the same, will surely make your friend feel worse. It has been proven that animals have individual personalities. Even if not intended, this insinuates your friend’s pet meant nothing and had no personality of his or her own and may make your friend angry. Animals are living beings with their own communication styles, personalities and emotions.
5) “I don’t understand why you’re so upset”
If you don’t, then don’t say it! It’s best to keep this thought to one’s self. The great thing about being human is the capacity for empathy when someone else is going through pain. Even when you can’t understand their pain, this is the best time to practice empathy.
Animals are considered family members by millions of people. When someone you care about has lost their pet, be considerate and caring. Send a Pet Sympathy Card. Send them a Pet Flower Bouquet or Pet Sympathy Gift. Call them and ask how they’re doing; and listen. Drop by to see how they’re doing. Allow your friend to talk about their pet without feeling judged is the greatest gift you can give. When your friend is ready for a new pet, they’ll let you know.
Try to stay away from saying any of these top 5 worst things to say to someone who just lost a pet and you’ll be a more supportive friend in times of grief and loss.
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