By Dr. Bethany Hsia, Co-founder of CodaPet
Losing a pet can be an incredibly difficult experience. As a friend, it's important to offer support and comfort to those who are grieving the loss of a beloved companion. Here are some ways to support a grieving friend after a pet loss:
Acknowledge their loss: Let your friends know that you recognize the depth of their loss and understand them. Saying "I'm so sorry for your loss" can go a long way in showing that you care.
Listen: Be there for your friend and listen to them if they want to talk about their pet or share memories. Talking about feelings and remembering the fun times with a beloved pet can be incredibly healing for a pet owner to share with you
Offer practical support: If your friend needs help with anything related to their pet's loss, offer to help; ideas might include helping them to prepare for a memorial service, with aftercare, or to clean up their home if they feel unable to do it themselves.
Respect their grieving process: Everyone grieves differently so it is important to respect your friend's grieving process. Give them the time they need to come to terms with their loss and do not push them to move on before they are ready.
Be there for them: Check in with your friend regularly and offer support. A simple phone call or quick text message to let them know you're thinking of them can mean a lot. If you are in person, offer a hug or hold their hand as a gesture showing support.
Avoid saying things like "It was just a pet": While it may be well-intentioned, this can minimize the importance of the pet in your friend's life and their grief. In fact, do the opposite and share stories of their pet; be sure to mention the pet’s name.
Share a happy memory: If your friend is open to it, share a photo or happy memory of their pet on social media. This can be a way to honor their pet's memory and bring a little bit of joy to a difficult time.
Provide resources: While it is generous to share your time and support, you might recommend local pet loss support groups or a national pet loss support hotline such as American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 877-GRIEF10 or P&G Pet Loss Support Hotline 888-332-7738.
Ultimately, the most important thing you can do is to be there for your friend and offer your support whenever they need it. By acknowledging their loss, listening to them, and honoring their grieving process, you can help your friend through this difficult time and let them know that they are not alone.