Losing a pet can be a devastating experience for many individuals and their families. Oftentimes, our pets become a huge part of our world and very few others in our life have the same relationship with our pet as we do, so this loss can feel very isolating. Our pets are more than a furry friend; they are our warm welcome when we come home, our alarm clock, they can make us laugh and they are the best to snuggle with. They offer companionship and a purpose for our lives. Experiencing the death of a beloved pet can be challenging to navigate and difficult to bring up with friends. It can be confusing to know what to do when someone loses a pet. If you are supporting someone who has recently experienced pet bereavement, read on for a few ideas on how to support your friend or family member.
Understand that losing a pet can be very difficult
The best thing you can do to support someone who has lost a pet is to give them kindness and empathy. Not all people understand the bond that owners can have with their pets, so if you are someone who struggles to know how to support them during this type of grief, you are not alone. But, even though you do not personally understand their loss with their pet, you can still offer them a compassionate listening ear. You can ask what they miss most about their pet. Ask them what was one of their favorite memories with their pet and if you have a sweet memory with their pet, you can share that with them too.
Offer companionship/Join them physically
Many people find great companionship and fulfillment in their relationship with their pet, and feel the absence of their pet greatly once they pass away. If you have the time and capacity, it can help your friend if you offer them your presence in the weeks and months right after they lose a pet. Even if they decline your offer, it will be nourishing to their heart to be asked. Whether you spend time with them in their home, or join them for coffee or activities outside the home, your presence can help ease their pain as they miss their furry friend.
Send a thoughtful Pet Memorial Gift
One of the most thoughtful things you can do is to send a personalized pet loss gift for someone who lost a pet. Your friend will feel the void in their home and routine and although a tangible gift cannot replace that void, it will remind them that you remember and honor their sweet pet’s life. Our collection of pet loss gifts includes a beautiful custom pet memorial candle, and a personalized pet remembrance necklace. Another one of my favorite gift ideas is to send a curated pet bereavement gift box in memory or their furry friend. Each gift box is shipped with their pet’s name personalized onto the candle and necklace set. This makes a super sweet memorial gift for pet loss!
Encourage them to have new Rituals
After a friend loses a beloved pet, it can help them immensely to engage in rituals that honor their pet and help them commemorate their life. Whether you join them in planting a pet memorial garden, taking a special walk that reminds them of their pet, or lighting a candle in memory of their pet and texting them the picture, these rituals can help them find the emotional space they need to process their loss and continues to allow them to talk about their beloved pet with you.
Send them a Tree or Plant in their Pet’s Honor
There is something very special about planting a tree in honor of a loved one, and we love the idea of sending a friend a bare root tree or flowering plant that can be planted in a friend’s yard or kept in their home. Your friend took great care nurturing their pet and being able to take care of the plant or tree can be a gentle and healthy thing for them. As the tree or plant matures, this area can become a place for them to commemorate the life of their pet. You can even send a special memorial garden stone to complete this pet memorial garden!
Take them something practical
Sometimes just bringing the basics can help a friend who is mourning. Bring over bagels, Starbucks or a bag of groceries with fresh fruit, juice and granola. Maybe bring over a small goodie bag for each of their kids who are also grieving in their own way. You don’t have to stay long or say anything profound, however just bringing something practical can let them know – “I see you and I know you are grieving.”
Send them a text or give them a call on the “Firsts” so They don’t Have to Feel Alone
I remember the first time I woke up the morning after our dog passed away and I thought I heard her toenails running down the hall. My heart sank and I began to cry…again. The reality of her loss felt heavy for every first I had to do without her in the days and months ahead. My sweet friend sent me a text that first morning with a pink heart and the simple phrase “thinking of you” and I didn’t know how much I needed that until I received it. I felt seen and loved. My heart continued to mourn however my friend’s simple text helped me put one foot in front of the other.
Try Not to Pressure them to Get a New Pet
While it is normal to want to encourage a friend who has recently lost a beloved pet to get a new pet, this very personal decision should be left to the person who has lost their furry friend. Suggesting the idea of a new pet can feel that they should move on with their mourning and that feels very unloving. Grief is a fingerprint and looks very different for everyone. It can take time to adjust to the idea of getting another dog or cat, and you can support their decision by giving them the space that they need to make the best decision for themselves and their individual situation.
Print them a Photo of their Pet or send one via text
In this digital age of online photos and cloud storage, many of us do not print physical photos. You can create a special and unique gift for your friend by printing a photo of their pet and placing it in a photo frame. This makes a super special pet remembrance gift that shows you care. If you are unable to print a photo, scrolling through your own photos and sending any you may have with their pet can bring them a smile as well. After I lost my dog Roxie, my Dad would send pictures of Roxie to me consistently. Eight years later, I still get pictures and videos of Roxie sent to me from my Dad. I cherish them all.
Remembering them during the holidays
The loss of a pet is a loss of a family member and often the times around the holidays, we feel the loss all over again. Sending a personalized ornament can be a beautiful way to honor their beloved pet. Even if it is months later, your friend has not stopped thinking about her pet and by sending a holiday ornament or gift in honor or her furry friend, you are letting her know, you remember them too.
We hope this list is filled with helpful ideas as you support a friend who has lost a pet! Which ideas are your favorites? We’d love to hear from you!