By Coleen Ellis, founder of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center, and blogger for pet insurance provider Pets Best Insurance
Losing a pet is a heartbreaking affair filled with grief for many pet parents. However, some people don’t understand the relationship and bond the person had with their pet, so they may not know what to say or how to act when someone loses a pet. Even if you’ve experienced this grief yourself, the grieving process varies by person, and it can be hard to find the right words.
As a starting point, here are five things you shouldn’t say to a grieving pet parent:
1. It’s just a dog
To you, it may be just a dog. But to pet lovers, this animal may have represented many things. The pet might have fulfilled roles such as being a friend, a confidant, providing security, and so much more.
2. It wasn’t a “real death” such as the loss of a husband, mother, grandmother, etc.
As pet lovers, the relationship that we have with our pets is free of baggage. It’s free of the complications and the difficult feelings that might come with a human-human relationship.
3. When are you going to get another one?
When this is said, it can convey the idea that the pet is replaceable and not worthy of its own time for grieving. For some people, it takes a long time before they’re ready for another pet. For others, the time frame might be much shorter. Either way, the pet parents will decide when the time is right.
4. You knew its life was much shorter than yours
Pet parents know their pet’s life is short. However, hearing this does not ease the pain and make the loss more bearable. Pet lovers cherish the journey with their pets and the memories made, versus being in constant preparation for the day the pet dies.
5. You know pets don’t go to heaven
Pet lovers want to believe what their heart wants to believe. Let them have faith in what they want.
If you’re someone who doesn’t understand what a grieving pet parent is going through, the moment of loss is not the time to try and understand it. Rather, recognize that this is a very bad time in their life, be supportive, don’t pass judgment, and respect the fact that they have these feelings, whether or not you agree with them or understand them.