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Understanding Pet Sympathy

Updated on September 1, 2014

To many people, losing a family pet is as significant as having a close friend or family member pass away. The feelings of grief and sadness are just as strong and should be recognized as natural and expected. As a friend or family member, you may not know what to do or how to react when the pet dies.

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About Pet Sympathy

Pet sympathy is not unlike condolences you send when a person dies. The key is to make sure you say the right thing because not only will your sentiments honor the beloved animal, they will also validate their feelings for his or her "friend."

You don't need to be a pet lover to "get" the emotional attachment a person has for a pet. People love their pets because they offer a sense of security and can be cared for — when this bond is broken, the owner feels lost, alone and somewhat insecure.

You may acknowledge the pet will be missed by offering pet sympathy as a card, sentiment, or gift. Your relationship with your friend or family member will determine the right type of condolence to send.

Sending Condolences

Sending someonea gift card to pet store for a new hamster after his or hers died is not a proper pet sympathy sentiment. Nor is a sympathy card that doesn't express sadness for the animal that died. Finding the right thing to say or do can be difficult in this situation; however, there are a few simple gestures you may take that will mean the world to your pet parent:

  • Take his or her grief seriously

  • Make a donation to an animal shelter
  • Spend time with your pet parent and let him or her talk about the pet
  • Send a sympathy card or write a condolence note

  • Help plan a burial or memorial
  • Put together a collage or montage of the pet's life
  • Write a poem in memory of the animal
  • Offer to take leftover pet food and products to an animal shelter
  • Offer to babysit smaller children
  • Make the family a few "freeze-n-bake" meals
  • Plant a tree or bush in memory of the pet

Allow Time for Grieving

Just as with any loss, the pet parent needs time to grieve. His or her pet was an important part of every day life, and it will take some time to move through the pain and emptiness. As a friend or family member, respect their time to mourn.

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