When someone loses a beloved pet, it’s important to reach out and let them know they’re not alone. Here’s some help for what to say.
Part of living the #HeartspokenLife is opening your heart to others and feeling their pain and loss. Yet even when we do, we sometimes have a hard time knowing what to say or how to act. The loss of a pet can be particularly difficult because not everyone understands or feels the need to reach out. Some can even be dismissive (“It’s just a pet” or “Thank goodness it wasn’t someone in your family.”) But to many pet lovers, the pain of losing a beloved pet is every bit as piercing as losing a human loved one. A recent experience with a friend’s loss brought this to mind and I wanted to offer some ways to support friends experiencing this kind of loss.
Pain in a friend’s words
My friend and her husband had lost two pet cats and their whole litter of baby kittens within just a few days. The cause seemed to be adult cat illness and death when the kittens were too young to survive without them. The precious babies died one by one, in spite of the owners’ frantic attempts to feed and care for them. The loss was devastating. They were understandably bereft and reaching out for comfort. She shared her words of anguish in a private online group, “I know they came to us to let us love them, and that we did, in abundance. But I do not feel strong and I am so tired with the tears from the last few days.”
Oh, how I wanted to reach out and hug her…make the pain go away if I could. I felt helpless to make a difference. I did respond online but also sent them a snail mail sympathy note.
Not knowing what to do or say is no excuse
Don’t let this feeling of helplessness keep you from reaching out to those who have suffered a loss, whether human or animal/pet. We can rationalize that there is nothing we can say or do to make a difference or assuage their pain. We may think we don’t know the person well enough to intrude on their time of mourning.
Reach out anyway.
Let them know you’re thinking of them. Send an email or a personal note. Make a phone call. Even if you are not an “animal person,” remember that many people are and that the loss of a beloved pet can be every bit as painful as the loss of a family member. Don’t try to “fix” the situation, because you can’t. Just hold them in your heart through your communication so they’ll know they’re not alone.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
~ Maya Angelou
Words of comfort
The beautiful responses from others in the online group were proof positive that the experience of pain and loss around the death of a pet was something many had experienced and understood only too well (I omitted names for privacy reasons but I thank everyone who reached out to my friend in such heartfelt ways). The next time you want to comfort someone who has lost a pet, perhaps these examples will give you some ideas for what you might say:
I am heartbroken for you! Losing any beloved furry family member is devastating, I know from personal experience many times over. But I can hardly imagine how overwhelming and unbearable the death of so many in such a short period of time would be. But let me assure you (or remind you) that, just like with human beings, the love we give and receive in return is so worth the pain of losing the beloved. It’s awful to endure the loss and grief, but remember the love you shared and the heartwarming memories you have of these five. Life is nothing without love, which comes in many forms, for and with many creatures. God bless you and I hope you can feel supported and encouraged by how many empathize with you. Much love from me to you.
Those fur babies went back to the God who loves them beyond measure, and who is so grateful that you and your sweet husband loved them and cared for them with all your hearts. It is so painful because they became a part of your family. I firmly believe that our furry family members will live with us in the life to come, they will be ours for eternity where there is no death to separate us. I would hazard a guess that they miss you too and the separation is just as painful for them. Love and hugs that you all will feel peace and be comforted.
I’m so sorry you lost those precious little cats. Don’t think for a minute that you aren’t strong. It takes great strength to love and to care for vulnerable animals and people. Your tears are most definitely not a sign of weakness…Give in to those tears and be watching for the next creature to love. So many kitties and puppies, poor people, lonely elderly…just waiting for a big-hearted person to be there for them.
I send love and healing vibes for your broken heart. I’m sorry for your loss.
It is always okay to say something like, “Words are so inadequate, but I wanted to reach out and let you know I am thinking of you with love and sympathy.”
Do animals go to heaven?
I sure hope so, but for all their beautiful attributes, I have no doubt God has a loving plan for the animals He created. The sacred bond with our pets is beautifully expressed in the dedication in his book The Universal Christ by renowned Richard Rohr, theologian and Franciscan priest:
“I dedicate this book to my beloved fifteen-year-old black Lab, Venus, whom I had to release to God while beginning to write this book. Without any apology, lightweight theology, or fear of heresy, I can appropriately say that Venus was also Christ for me.”
More inspiring quotations about losing a pet
When you can’t come up with your own words, share these quotes:
I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time? ~Sir Walter Scott
The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and freedom. ~ Sharon Ralls Lemon
Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.~ John Galsworthy
CLICK HERE for many more expressions of comfort to send someone who has lost a pet of any kind.
Cards that express your sympathy when a pet dies
I usually write on a generic notecard, but I found these lovely cards on Amazon that include beautiful sentiments. I’ve just ordered some to have on hand. Click on the images for more information. When you make an Amazon purchase using my affiliate links, you are supporting the work of this blog.
What words or actions have comforted you when you’ve lost a pet? Please share in the comments below.
Want more resources for writing personal notes?
I invite you to join our private Facebook group called “Revive the art of personal note writing!” We share ideas and inspiration for ways to spread love by snail mail.