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What to Say, And What Not to Say, Following the Passing of a Pet

Whether a cat dies, is lost or stolen, or must be placed in a new home, this is the place to gather together to give and receive love and support when you experience the loss of a beloved cat.

  
Lady

the queen
 
 
Purred: Tue Sep 10, '13 3:01pm PST 
Say This

“Your pet was so lucky to have you.”

During times of grief many people look inward and ask themselves if there was anything else they could have done differently. Reminding someone of what a wonderful pet parent they were, and that their pet enjoyed the best life possible, can help to alleviate any guilt a pet [parent] may be feeling.

Don’t Say This

“When are you getting another pet?”

This implies that a pet is like a piece of furniture–if it breaks or gets old you just throw it out and get a new one. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our pets provide the kind of emotional connection that, for some, can resonate deeper than what they feel with human beings. Pets demand that we be selfless and in return we are rewarded with unconditional love. That’s not something that can be erased immediately.

Say This

“Do you remember when…?”

Sharing a personal, heartwarming or funny story about a pet with a grieving [caregiver] can help move the focus away from the loss to a remembrance of happier times. And it’s those happy times that will help many pet [parents] get through the tough times ahead.


Don’t Say This

“What’s the big deal? You have other pets.”

As any pet [parent] will tell you, each pet is different and brings something unique to our lives. Would you tell a parent that has lost a child, “Don’t worry about it. You have other kids?” Of course not. Be sensitive to the loss irrespective of how many pets a person might have.

Say This

“Is there anything I can do?”

It might sound cliché but if it’s truthful, and you’re willing to help, just knowing there is someone there if needed can provide a great deal of comfort to a grieving pet parent. But if you say it you need to mean it. If someone reaches out to you with a request after you’ve offered, and you’re not able or willing to help, you can damage a relationship forever.

Don’t Say This

“Are you really going to have [him/her] cremated?”

Just like it is with the passing of people, everyone has their own particular desires for how to handle the services. In the case of pets, cremation allows us to “keep” our pet with us forever. By implying to someone that their choice of cremation is foolish speaks to a personality void of understanding the desire for some type of physical presence.


Say This

“You did everything you could do.”

Many pet [parents] feel enormous guilt upon the passing of the pet. Perhaps they feel if they’d taken their pet to the vet earlier the outcome may have been different. Guilt is also often felt when it comes to end of life decisions, one of the hardest things a pet [parent] may have to go through. Letting the pet [parent] know they responded appropriately and with love can go a long way in helping to soothe a grieving [caregiver].

Don’t Say This

“It’s just a dog (cat, rabbit, hamster, etc.)”

This will invariably come from the person who has never [had] a pet. They can’t begin to understand the connection we feel with our pets and probably don’t view this statement as crass or insensitive. But you have to wonder if they would say the same kind of thing if they were talking about a family member or friend passing.

Do This

Sending a condolence card will be seen by most any grieving pet [parent] as a very thoughtful act. This is not the time for an email which is impersonal. Include a brief, handwritten note and include a photo of the pet in happier times if you have one. Another kind gesture is to make donation to a pet charity in the name of the [pet parent]. If the dog or cat died from cancer a donation to the Animal Cancer Fund or [another] worthy organization can mean the world to a grieving pet parent.

The bond we have with our pets runs deep. And one of the hardest parts about [having] a pet is that we know the odds are that we’ll outlive them. But in the relatively brief time we have our beloved friends we know the joy they bring and we’re willing to deal with that reality. Death is a part of life and eventually we move on. But that doesn’t negate the finality that comes with death; particularly in the days after. Showing the same type of sensitivity to someone who has lost a pet as we would if it was a relative or friend who has passed not only helps to alleviate grieving it also reminds us of the fragility of life. And if that doesn’t make you want to hug your pet a little tighter I’m not sure what will.
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Tia

Tia the- Terrific!
 
 
Purred: Wed Sep 11, '13 3:36am PST 
That was a great post. I don't think many people know exactly what to say or how it effects someone to have their pet pass away. I had several people say "It's just a dog, and you didn't even have it that long" when my puppy died last year.
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Maizy

I may meow to- you if you're- worthy
 
 
Purred: Wed Sep 11, '13 10:24am PST 
Great post! - I also like to remind them that they now have their own guardian angel on their shoulder. Although this would depend on the person too. A nice thing too would be a small donation in the pet's name to a shelter or good pet charity. I did that for myself when my dog Casey passed at 16 years old. I made a donation in his name to a great shelter - we got him from a shelter so it was a fitting tribute for me.
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Pounce

Will purr for- petting!
 
 
Purred: Fri Sep 13, '13 5:52am PST 
We agree - excellent post! Thanks for sharing it with everyonebig grin
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