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Etiquette to Consider When Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

June 20, 2012  |     |   0 Comment

My sister’s beautiful dog – a chocolate lab named Jack – recently passed away.  Everyone who met Jack assumed she was male because of the name.  But Jack was a statuesque female who wore that name with pride.  And it was not short for “Jacqueline”.  Just Jack.  I called her “Jackie Brown.”

She was 14 years old.  An integral part of our family, Jack taught us to follow her ways…..be happy in the moment…..appreciate the “here and now”…..let the ones you love know how much you love them every day.  I miss her and am mourning her death.  My sister is deeply grieving.  Jack was beyond an integral part of her life – Jack was an extension of her being.  Jack’s passing has created a hole in our family.  We miss her terribly.

How can one console a friend or family member who is grieving the loss of a beloved animal?  Here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind so that you can be a source of strength and support rather than a hinderance:

DO:

  • Create an environment that provides your friend or family member the opportunity to talk about her feelings.
  • Listen more, talk less.
  • Share fond memories of the beloved animal.
  • Know that depression and anger are normal emotions and expressions of grief, as are unusual behaviours. Give your friend or family member a lot of room and time to heal.
  • If you’re not sure what to say, just be honest and say something like, “There’s nothing I can really say right now to change things or make you feel better, although I wish I could. I want you to know that I am here for you.”

DON’T SAY THE FOLLOWING:

  • I know how you feel.
  • It’s a blessing.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • You were lucky to have her this long.
  • She isn’t suffering anymore.
  • She is in a better place.
  • Life goes on.
  • You should just get another pet.

A pet owner has a special and unique bond with their pet.  Like a mother with a child, it is impenetrable.  While we all have good intentions in how we offer support to those who are mourning the loss of their beloved pet, we often say things that minimize their feelings and the significance of their relationship with their pet. The best thing we can do is simply “be there” for our friend or family member.  Acknowledging their sadness and overwhelming sense of loss is appropriate and always more helpful.

 


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