Any pet lover knows how hard it can be to process the death of a beloved pet. One of the most meaningful things you can do for a friend who recently lost their pet is to simply reach out. Let them know you’re thinking of them and their pet. This simple step can make the process of healing easier for them, but you may be looking for other ways you can be there for them.
If you’re looking for more ways you can help your friend, here are a 6 ways you can provide comfort to a friend who lost their pet.
1. Validate Their Feelings
Let them know what they’re feeling is okay and expected. Losing a pet is a difficult experience for pet owners, so let them know it’s okay to feel upset. Allowing yourself a period to grieve can be an important step in the healing process. Assure them that what they are feeling, whatever it may be, is okay. Framing their emotions as normal will help them process their grief in a healthy way.
2. Give Them Time
In the midst of a loss, it’s common to try to shed a bright light on what has happened to dampen negative emotions. Be careful not to move too fast. Again, it’s okay if your friend is sad, so don’t rush into positivity because it may undermine the severity of the person’s loss.
Give them time to grieve and allow them to heal at their own pace and in their own way.
Some people have a tendency to try to move on as quickly as possible without fully processing a loss. Remind them that processing the death of a pet can take time. Encourage them to allow themselves to grieve during a difficult time.
Follow up with your friend and check-in with them at least once more after you initially reach out. The process of healing will take time for them and can have its ups and downs. Sending a follow-up message a few days later to see how they are coping can be the difference between extending a polite courtesy and showing true empathy.
3. Remind Them to Be Gentle With Themselves
In some instances, pet owners are forced to put their pets down as they reach an old age or experience health complications. This can be difficult to come to terms with and your friend may be questioning whether they made the right decision. These feelings are understandable.
While it’s important to listen to me, if they are saying things like “it’s my fault” or “I made the wrong decision”, challenge these sentiments and validate the decision they made for their pet. Don’t let them blame themselves for any difficult decision they had to make for their pet while they were nearing the end of their life. Make sure they know they are a loving, caring, and responsible pet owner who always had their pet’s best interests at heart.
4. Do Something Special to Honor Their Pet
They say that grief is simply love with no place to go. And while adopting another pet may or may not be in the cards, a memorial donation is a meaningful way to help. The Pet Memorial is an affordable way to honor departed pets while funding rescue squads around the world for needy animals. You can add your friend’s pet to the memorial, while helping many animals who have no home.
5. Bake Them a Treat
Or any kind of baked good! Food is a natural source of comfort during difficult times. Baking a recipe for a person is a great way to show them that you are thinking about them. Better yet, invite them over and bake a recipe together. Social time with a friend can be beneficial for both you and your friend.
Here’s an easy recipe for some cozy banana muffins for you and your friend.
6. Take a Walk With Your Friend
Exercise won’t cure grief, but it can help boost your mood by releasing endorphins. Going on a walk outdoors can also be a great time for the person to talk about their pet loss with you if they’re comfortable. Not only will your friend be coping with a loss, but they may be readjusting to a new routine in their life without a pet to take care of. Going for walks together can help them establish a new routine after their pet has passed.
Additionally, spending time in nature can have healing effects for people experiencing grief or loss. Experiencing nature can improve wellbeing and mental health for everyone and especially for those grieving.
The most important thing you can do is be there for your friend. It’s okay if you don’t know what to say or you’re worried you may say the wrong thing. Listening and checking in to make sure they’re doing okay is the most meaningful thing you can do for them while they are grieving their pet.
You’re already a caring and loving person for looking into ways you can help and support your friend through the loss of a pet.