Dealing With Heartache: What To Say When A Pet Dies

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams
Updated January 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Coping with the loss of a pet can produce the same complicated emotions as the loss of a family or friend. Sadness, loneliness, and pain often accompany grief, frequently making it hard to move on with life and even care for oneself. If a loved one has recently lost a pet, it can be hard to know what to do or say to help them feel better during this difficult and emotional time. Expressing your condolences and offering sympathy can be helpful, as can sending flowers, offering a listening ear, and dropping off food for your loved one. If their grief seems to be negatively impacting their life long-term, you might suggest they meet with a licensed therapist for support.

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Online Therapy Can Help You Cope With Grief

What To Say When A Pet Passes Away

Losing a pet can be an emotional time, so soothing words can be a salve to an individual who is grieving. Your loved one may benefit from the reassurance that they have support or that someone else knows how they’re feeling. It can also help to hear that they aren’t alone in experiencing mental health-related concerns. For example, it can be normal and expected to grieve when a pet passes away. It may be easier for someone who has lost a pet before to express condolences, but you can still use many of these suggestions if this doesn’t apply to you.

“I’m Thinking About You And Your Pet”

This can help you express your condolences in a simple and effective way. It is a sentiment that generally acknowledges that you know what happened and are wishing them well. This can be a sympathetic phrase for when you might not have known the pet well. It isn’t always necessary to say a lot of words when you’re just trying to be there for someone, but this can effectively convey compassion and kindness.

“They Were Really Amazing”

A phrase like this can be comforting because it shows respect and helps to memorialize how special the pet was. You can let your loved one know that you’re going to miss the pet, too, which can be a way of providing empathy. If you have any fun stories with the pet, then you might even want to tell them. Remembering the good times can be bittersweet when you’ve just lost a beloved pet, but it can also be a good way to experience consolation.

“I Know That Losing A Pet Is Hard”

You might want to try to relate to your friends or family when something like this happens. Losing a pet can be hard, and you might have experience in this area if it has happened to you. Sometimes, just knowing that someone has gone through a similar experience can help. If you have lost a beloved pet in the past, then you can empathize with this person. 

“It’s Difficult To Lose Someone In The Family”

Losing a beloved pet is something that can feel much like losing part of the family. If applicable, think about how you might feel about your own pet and what you would go through if something happened. For many pet owners, the loss of a cherished pet is just as impactful as losing a person in the family. That’s why it can be nice for people to acknowledge the significance of this loss through carefully chosen words. Treating the loss of a pet like the loss of family can let your loved one know that you understand how important the pet was to them.

“I’m Here For You”

You don’t have to know exactly what to say or be a great orator to let someone know that you care about them. A simple sentiment, such as “I’m always here for you,” can make a difference in someone’s life. When you’re coping with pet loss, it can be easy to become sad and feel lonely. Having the companionship of a pet taken away can produce complex emotions. Letting your loved one know that you’re there for them no matter what can provide them with the support they need. You can let them know that they can reach out to you if they need help or if they just want to chat. Being present and giving your friend or family a shoulder to lean on can be a significant gesture when they’re coping with the loss of a pet.

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Coping With Heartache: What To Do

In addition to providing comforting words, you can take action to bring solace to a loved one who is grieving. The following are some things you can do to console someone who has lost a pet. 

Send Flowers

Perhaps you don’t know what to say, or you aren’t sure when you’re going to be able to see your friend or family face-to-face. You might be able to express your condolences by sending them flowers. This can be a generous gesture that often shows that you care about your loved one and understand how significant the loss of their pet has been. Not only can sending flowers be a kind gesture, but you can also write something on the card to communicate your sympathies. The messages mentioned above could work nicely in a card like this, or you can try to say anything else you’re feeling in your heart.

Offer A Listening Ear

One of the best ways to show up for someone who is grieving the loss of a pet can be to let them express themselves. While it is often tempting to give advice to those who are going through a difficult time, sometimes just listening and providing your loved one with an outlet for their emotions can be the most helpful course of action. You can let them know that they can talk to you whenever they’re ready. Of course, if they ask you for specific advice or your point of view, you can provide it, but try to avoid telling them how to feel or what to do. Talking through one’s feelings can be cathartic, so consider giving them the opportunity to do just that.

Bring Food

Symptoms of depression, such as a lack of motivation, can be normal parts of the grieving process, so your loved one might be having trouble doing things like going to the grocery store, cooking, or even ordering food. In this situation, it can be helpful to bring your loved one something to eat. Consider cooking or picking up a meal that you can drop off. Think about bringing something you know they like or a dish that can be reheated easily. 

Additionally, if you know they’re receptive to visitors, this can be a chance for you to check in on your loved one, have a conversation with them, and show them you’re thinking about them. Let them acknowledge the loss of the pet if they want to, but be ready to talk about other things if they would like to take their mind off the loss.

Remember That People Grieve In Different Ways

As your friend or family mourns the loss of their pet, they may choose to grieve differently than you would have. Whether you have lost a pet or not, everybody usually has their own process for grieving. As time goes by, you may see your friend experience a range of different emotions due to their loss. For example, holidays and anniversaries that remind them of their pet may cause them to experience sadness, longing, and loneliness. Being consistently supportive and checking in with this person to express your support at important times throughout the year can be meaningful. If they seem to be having trouble processing their grief, you might recommend they schedule an online or in-person therapy session for professional support and guidance.

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Online Therapy Can Help You Cope With Grief

Benefits Of Online Therapy

Online therapy can be an excellent choice for those experiencing grief because it generally doesn’t require them to leave the house or sit in a public waiting room. Instead, they can get professional help from the comfort of their home at a time that works for them. In addition, online therapy can make it easy to match with a licensed therapist who has experience helping clients through feelings of grief.

Effectiveness Of Online Therapy

A growing body of evidence points to online therapy as an effective method of addressing symptoms that may be related to losing a loved one, such as a pet. For example, in one study, researchers found that online therapy could comfort individuals experiencing grief. In general, participants experienced a significant improvement in feelings of loss and symptoms of depression while also reporting high levels of satisfaction with this form of treatment. 

Takeaway

It can be hard to know what to say or do when reassuring a loved one who has lost a pet. Through empathy, thoughtful gestures, and kind words, you can provide them with solace and help them process their feelings. If you’d like to better understand pet bereavement, grief, and loss, chatting with a licensed therapist online can help. As with comforting someone who has lost a pet, sometimes the right support can make all the difference. 

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