Nov. 9, 2023: Supporting Your Loved Ones

Nov. 9, 2023: Supporting Your Loved Ones

By Katie Simpson

Your family member just got the news: their beloved companion has a short time left. You're suddenly not sure what to say. How do you comfort someone who is experiencing so much pain? Words don't seem like enough. If you haven't lived through the loss of a pet, you may not know how to provide meaningful comfort to your friend or family member. 

Let them talk.

Don't just say I'm sorry. Give your loved one space to talk about their feelings. Be the listener they need, whether it's to vent their frustration, explain the situation, or think aloud. Your loved one may need a shoulder to cry on, and there doesn't always have to be words to fill the silence. 

Empathize with their pain.

Anger and depression are normal parts of grief. Be accepting of your loved one and offer them grace. They may say things they don't mean in their grief, but you can listen and offer compassion and empathy. Let them know their feelings are normal, and you're here for them.

Cry with them.

If your loved one is tearing up, you might too - and that's okay. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Crying releases endorphins, which can be cathartic for many people. 

Celebrate their pet's life.

You may want to consider memorializing your loved one's pet's life with a ceremony, sharing pictures, a burial, scattering ashes, or lighting candles. Offer to buy your friend a memorial photo of their pet, a meaningful necklace, or commission an artist to create a portrait of their pet. Share pictures of their pet and stories about good times. 

Donate in their name.

Make a donation on behalf of your loved one: sponsor an animal at a shelter, donate your time and volunteer with a rescue, or send a donation to an organization that benefits animals.

Be a good friend.

Your patience and a good shoulder to cry on go further than you'd think. Keep loving your friend or family member and check up on them as they navigate this difficult time.