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Loss of a Beloved Pet - How to Bring Comfort to a Grieving Friend
by Lori Pederson

My companion growing up was a beautiful Golden Retriever Collie mix named Red. Red was my first pet to pass away and I was devastated. I remember starting to cry when I was at school and my friends did not seem to understand why I was showing such deep emotions for the loss of my dog. Although they did not understand, I knew what a big part he had played in my life and I felt a bit lost without him. He was my friend, my protector and my companion.


Animal people know that a pet can truly become a part of the family and their passing can be as devastating as losing a dear friend. A pet provides unconditional love and companionship. They are always excited to see you when you come home, they are by your side when you are sick, and they listen to you when no one else will. When a pet passes away they truly leave a void in the lives of those who loved them.

If you would like to bring comfort to a grieving pet owner, here are a few ideas you may want to consider:


Ways to Offer Your Support

  • •  Listen Without Judgment.  Today, pets play an important part in the lives of their owners and their loss can be very painful. If you are a non-pet person, you may think it is strange that your friend is expressing such deep feelings for the loss of their pet. But if you take the time to listen, you will most likely find that their pet was their companion and friend.
  • •  Acknowledge the Loss. Understand that the loss of a pet can be significant and should not be disregarded as inconsequential. Acknowledging their loss and extending your sympathy can bring comfort topanther your friend. Send a card or give them a call to let them know you understand that this is an important loss in their life. A note might include the following: "We were saddened to hear of Panther's passing. You gave him companionship, comfort and warmth throughout his life. We will remember his joyful spirit. We are so sorry for your loss."
  • •  Don't be Afraid to talk about the animal. Sharing stories about a beloved pet that has passed away is a normal and a therapeutic way to heal. Allow your friend to talk about their memories and don't be afraid to mention the animal's name or share your own fond memories of the pet.
  • •  Give a Hug. A simple hug can go a long way. When my cat Harley passed away a few years ago, I remember becoming very emotional one morning. My niece, who saw that I was upset, came up to me and gave me a generous hug. I was grateful that she was willing to be there for me in a loving way.

Thoughtful Pet Sympathy Gift Ideas

  • •  Show you care by sending a donation to an animal shelter or charity in memory of the pet that passed away.
  • •  Personalize a frame with a poem and a favorite picture of the animal.
  • •  Help your friend create a pet sanctuary in their backyard with plants and a memorial garden stone to honor the memory of their beloved pet.
  • •  Create a pet remembrance box with the pet's name, picture and keepsake items.
  • •  Send your friend a Pet Memorial Ornament to remember their pet during the holidays.
  • •  Click here for more Pet Sympathy Gift Ideas

What Is Not Helpful?

Often friends and family try to lessen the deep emotions of grief by offering what they may feel are valid and rational responses to the loss of a pet. However, these responses can be hurtful and can disregard the pet owner's feelings. Here are a few sayings to try to avoid:


  • •  Don't be sad, you can always get another pet.
  • •  It is just a pet, why are you so upset?
  • •  I can't believe you spent so much money on treatment for your pet.
  • •  It has been a couple of weeks, why are you still upset?
  • •  Why would you spend money to have your pet cremated and put in an Urn, the Vet can just take care of it for you for free.

And a special note to the non-pet lovers... we ask you to remember that your friends that love the furry creatures of the world may be experiencing a loss without their pet. Kind words and your thoughtfulness during the grieving process are always appreciated.


I have always been deeply grateful for the unconditional love my pets have given me and those that have passed away will always hold a special place in my heart. If you have a Pet story you would like to share, we would love to hear from you.

©2013 Lori Pederson
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