For a loving pet parent, the death of a beloved pet is incredibly emotional. Some people don’t understand the deep grief experienced with this loss and will many times make comments that are more hurtful than helpful.
Frequently heard comments are:
1). It’s just an animal.
Many pet parents see their pets as family members. With baby boomers empty nesting pets have become the new children. For elderly people, a pet might be the sole source of companionship; for people working out of home offices more and more, pets represent their social relationship throughout the day. Pets have gone from the barnyards to the bedrooms and have become substantially more in people’s lives.
2). When will you get another pet as that will make you feel better?
This statement makes a pet parent feel a new pet will automatically eliminate the grief and the emotions, and quite frankly minimizes the life that was shared with the deceased pet.
3). Pets don’t go to heaven because they don’t have souls.
Whatever a person’s belief, many people do want to believe they will see their beloved pets again. In fact, a pet lover’s version of a perfect “heaven” is to be with their animals again.
4). I can’t believe how much you spent on him in his care, and then you chose to get him cremated with an urn?
Everyone has, and is entitled to, an opinion and what a pet owner spends on their pet is their prerogative. However, some friends and family members like to offer an opinion as to what should have value, and what shouldn’t. To them, they don’t understand the relationship with a pet so they will not understand the costs associated with their care.
5). There are bigger things going on in your life right now that deserve more thought and emotion than the death of a pet.
Ranking emotional events for many people seems to be an organic answer to keeping things in perspective on how one should feel, or shouldn’t feel. Grief is grief and loss is loss with no need to rank what should be lesser or more.
To help a grieving pet parent, it’s okay to just say “I’m sorry.” Pet parents understand that a non-pet lover doesn’t relate with the human-animal bond, so it’s more about respecting a person’s emotions versus needing to relate to the emotions.
This guest post was written by Pet Loss Pioneer, Coleen Ellis, of The Pet Loss Center.