How to Comfort a Friend Who Lost a Pet and Offer Support

Published July 7, 2022
Upset young adults sitting indoors and talking

Losing your own pet is devastating, but it can be equally difficult to see a loved one grieving the loss of their beloved companion. If you're wondering how to comfort a friend who has lost a pet, there are several ways to console them. Being there for your friend and offering them whatever they need as they grieve -- whether that's space, a shoulder to cry on, or a listening ear -- is the most valuable thing you can provide. You can also choose to write a heartfelt message or send them a sympathy gift to honor their pet who died, such as a keepsake frame or a star named after the pet. Show you care with these acts of support.

Comforting a Friend After Their Pet Died

It's understandable if you feel feel unsure how to comfort a friend whose pet has just died. You may not know what to say or what kind of support they need. The best thing you can do is authentically ask your friend what they need. Everyone grieves in different ways. Some may wish to share memories about their late pet, whereas others may want to silently cry in the arms of a loving friend.

As your friend processes their loss, they may experience various emotions, including sorrow, anger, guilt, denial, or disbelief. Give them the opportunity to explore these feelings in healthy ways, including talking or journaling. Lend an accepting and compassionate ear whenever they need it.

Hands holding paws dog

Your friend may ask for space as they mourn. Respect their wishes, but be sure to check in regularly to see if they need anything as they move through the stages of grief. However, if your friend shows signs of severe depression or is having difficulty meeting basic needs, such as personal hygiene or eating regular meals, they may be in need of professional help. Gently express your concern and suggest speaking with a pet bereavement expert or mental health professional.

Offer to Arrange Body Care

Aftercare arrangements are an aspect of losing a pet that many people overlook. Others may feel it too painful to address. However, somebody care methods are time-sensitive, including burying a pet. You can gently ask your friend if this is something you can help them with.

It can provide them with immense relief to know someone else can dig a hole, transport their beloved pet's body to the vet, or pick up the ashes for them. Be sure to check local laws and ordinances relating to deceased pets, including where they can be buried, as some methods, such as backyard burials, are not legal everywhere.

Expressing Your Support Through Words

Whether you're speaking the words in person or writing them in a card or text, several statements can provide your friend with comfort. Use one of a few of these phrases for a friend who has lost a pet.

  • "I love you and am here if you need anything at all."
  • "You gave [their pet's name] such an amazing life."
  • "What do you need right now?"
  • "I'm thinking about you."
  • "Would you like to share your favorite story about [their pet's name]?"
  • "How is your heart?"
  • "[Their pet's name] was so lucky to have you as a parent."
  • "I am so sorry for your loss. Please know I'm here for you."
  • "[Their pet's name] will be missed by so many."
  • "Would you like to go for a walk together to get some fresh air?"
  • "Whether you need a shoulder to cry on, a friend to talk to, or someone to eat ice cream with, I'm here for you."

What to Avoid Saying

While grieving the loss of a pet, there are a few things your friend may not want to hear.

  • Do not say, "I know how you feel." Everyone grieves differently, so even if you did experience a similar situation, you might not know exactly how your friend is feeling.
  • Do not gift your friend a new pet or urge them to adopt another animal right away. Some individuals may not be ready for a new pet for months or even years after losing one. Allow them to pursue this in their own time.
  • Do not say, "I can't believe they're gone." Remaining in a state of disbelief can prolong the grieving process, so it may not be helpful to confirm that feeling.
  • Do not suggest drinking as a way to cheer your friend up, as self-medicating with alcohol can become an unhealthy coping tool.
  • Do not say their pet "was just an animal," as this will only belittle their emotions. For many, the loss of a pet is as or more devastating than losing a human family member.

What to Send a Friend Who Lost a Pet

Perhaps you'd like to give your mourning friend a gift. Depending on how well you know the friend or their pet, you can approach the perfect gift in many different ways. A universal sympathy gift can be a beautiful way to celebrate their lost friend; likewise, a personalized memorial gift can allow you to commemorate their pet. Choose whichever approach would best suit your relationship and the individual.

Flowers

A gift of flowers is a traditional gesture that many people still appreciate. Have a bouquet sent to their home or deliver one yourself. Instead, a spin on this present is gifting your friend a potted plant they can cherish for many months or years. The common moth orchid is a beautiful potted flower that may be perfect for this occasion.

Some say white orchids symbolize sympathy. You could also choose another attractive plant, such as a succulent or monstera. Choose a pet-friendly plant if your friend has surviving dogs or cats.

Framed Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words; therefore, a gift of a photo of your friend's beloved dog or cat can be a thoughtful way to express your condolences. Use your pal's favorite photo of their pet or one that portrays their personality. Many owners like to display their dog's collar or clay paw print along with a photo.

You can choose to use a frame that has a place for these priceless mementos. Many also have a place for a pet loss poem. Print the photo at home, use a photo printing service, or even have the image made into a high-quality canvas print. Your loved one will appreciate having a visual reminder of their special pet.

Dog's Funeral

Memorial Star

Naming a star after your loved one's pet can be a unique sympathy gift. Their dog or cat's name will appear in a star registry, and your friend will receive a certificate along with coordinates where they can view their special star. Wherever they go, their beloved pet will always be there, represented as a star in the vast night sky.

Tattoo Gift Card

Many people choose to place a permanent reminder of cherished family members on their skin. A tattoo dedicated to their pet may be the perfect gift for a friend who loves body ink. Your buddy will be free to select the design and placement of the art, yet your gift card can help offset the price of the tattoo. Contact the shop directly to purchase a voucher or give your friend a bank gift card they can use for the design.

Animal Rescue Donation

If your friend does not care for material items, consider making a donation to an animal rescue in their late pet's honor. Choose a widespread rescue organization, such as The Humane Society of the United States, or something more niche based on the individual pet.

You can consider species- or breed-specific rescues, or even foundations that cater to whatever illness the pet passed away from, such as the Animal Cancer Foundation. Any amount -- even one dollar -- will make a difference to the future of these organizations and touch your friend's heart.

Be There for a Friend Who Lost Their Pet

Whether the death of their pet was expected or sudden, it's impossible to anticipate the level of grief a friend will experience. Healing from this great loss will take time and support. Your presence is the greatest gift you can provide for a loved one in this situation.

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How to Comfort a Friend Who Lost a Pet and Offer Support