What do I say to someone who has lost a pet?
It is so hard to know what to say to comfort someone facing the loss of a beloved pet. Here are guidelines to help you be supportive and sensitive as they grieve:
- Say, “I’m so sorry for your loss. Do you want to talk about it?”
- Give the person the opportunity to talk about their feelings. Listen more than talk and be accepting and patient. Everyone grieves differently.
- Encourage them to reminisce and share your own memories about their pet if you can.
- Say, “There’s nothing I can say right now to make you feel better. I wish I could. I want you to know that I am here for you.”
- Set reminders for yourself to ask them how they are doing days, weeks and months following the death. Offer to pray with them as appropriate.
- Help them celebrate the life of the pet they lost.
- Offer suggestions to help them through their grief and offer to help them celebrate by: collecting and displaying photos, writing a note to the pet, planting a flower or tree, keeping the pet’s tags on a keychain or necklace, having a memorial service, etc.
- Avoid clichés like:
- “Time heals all wounds.”
- “All things happen for a reason.”
- “He/she is in a better place.”
- “I know exactly how you feel.”
- No one ever experiences pain and grief in exactly the same way. When a person is grieving, these sayings aren’t comforting. Simply acknowledging the sadness and overwhelming sense of loss is more helpful.
- Don’t tell them they can get another dog/cat/horse, etc. and don’t get a new pet for them. It is impossible to recreate lost relationships, even if the new pet is the same breed. The length of time and way a person needs to mourn varies for each person. Getting a new pet too soon will hurt more than it helps.
- Give information about a local pet loss support group to attend. There is a good list here: http://www.pet-loss.net
Additional resources to help someone who is grieving
Download our "Do pets go to heaven?" brochure.
Bible verses on comfort:
- Luke 12:6 – “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”
- Jeremiah 27:5 – “With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it.”
- Psalm 22:24 – “For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
- Revelation 21:4-5 - “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”