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71% of women and 55% of men admit that losing a pet is as difficult as losing a beloved human friend.
If you’ve been there yourself, you know how devastating it is to lose a furry family member. Still, you might struggle to find the right words of comfort when someone you know experiences the loss of a pet.
In this post, we’ll give you some guidance on what to say when someone loses a pet. We’ll also offer advice on what not to say, as well as practical steps you can take to help your friend and honor their pet’s memory.
Keep reading to find the right words to say to your grieving friend.
What to Say When Someone Loses a Pet
Here are some ideas you could use to offer your sincere pet condolences.
“I Know You Feel Awful Right Now. I’m So Sorry.”
Don’t overthink it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is acknowledge your friend’s pain and assure them that it pains you too. When other words fail, “I’m sorry” is always appropriate.
“Would It Help You to Talk About Them?”
Your friend might find comfort in talking about happy memories of their pet. They might also need to vent about how hurt and angry they feel or how unfair it was. Or, they might not want to talk much at all.
Whatever their reaction, be ready to listen with patience and sympathy.
“Your Pet Had an Amazing Life Because…”
After the loss of a pet, its owner might second-guess all the decisions they made. Should they have borrowed money to pay for that expensive surgery? Would their pet have been better off with a different family?
Calm their anxiety by reminding them of specific reasons why their pet was lucky to have them for an owner. Did they adopt them from a rescue center? Did they always take their pet with them on family vacations?
“Do You Remember the Time When…?”
If you have your own fond memories of their pet, share them. Reliving the time their cat got stuck in the tree or their dog won a Halloween costume contest could have you both smiling before you know it.
“You Took Such Good Care of Her/Him.”
The decision to help a pet battle an illness—or deciding if and when to euthanize—is an agonizing choice. Reassure your friend that they did the best they could and they made the right decision at the right time.
“Would You Like Me to Help You Put Away Their Things?”
It can be overwhelming to look at reminders of a lost pet. Food bowls, toys, leashes, and other items can reopen painful wounds. If the pet’s last days were particularly difficult, the carpet and furniture might also need to be cleaned.
Tactfully offer to help your friend organize their pet’s belongings or get the house cleaned. Of course, if they’re not ready yet, respect their decision.
These two little words might mean more than the most eloquent speech you could write.
What NOT to Say When Someone Loses a Pet
You might want to cheer your friend up by making a joke or downplaying their loss, but those attempts will likely backfire. Here’s a list of things you should not say (even if your intentions are good):
- “Don’t cry.”
- “I know how you feel.”
- “Don’t worry. You’ll feel better soon.”
- “You should get another pet.”
- “Your pet is better off now.”
Your friend needs time to work through their grief at their own pace and in their own way. Trying to rush the process or minimize their loss will only make them feel worse.
Words of Comfort in a Sympathy Card
If you’re not sure what to say in person, why not send your friend a condolence card or sympathy note? Here are some sample ideas you could use:
- Thinking about you and Max. I’m always here if you need anything.
- Wishing you peace and comfort during this tragic time.
- Buddy was such a great dog. He was lucky to have you as his family.
- I’m so sorry for your loss. Bella will be deeply missed.
- We can never keep them long enough! You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
- I know you miss Daisy terribly. If there’s anything I can do, please let me know.
- You and Lucy were so lucky to have found each other. Take comfort in knowing you gave her a wonderful life!
This could be especially meaningful in the weeks or months after the loss. Your friend is probably still grieving and needs support, especially after everyone else has returned to their normal routines.
Other Ways to Offer Pet Condolences
If you want to go above and beyond for your friend, there are so many ways to honor their pet and show your support. Here are a few of our favorite ideas.
Donate to Charity in the Pet’s Name
Is there an animal shelter or rescue center in your neighborhood? Make a donation there (or to another animal-oriented charity group) in honor of your friend’s pet.
Plant a Tree in the Pet’s Honor
Their pet may be gone, but its memory can endure. With your friend’s permission, arrange to have a tree or shrub planted in their yard or a local park to honor their pet’s memory.
Send Your Friend a Memorial Gift
A personalized gift that honors a lost pet is sure to become a beloved keepsake. You might consider a garden stone, wind chimes, jewelry, or anything else you think your friend would like.
Offer to Host a Memorial Service for Their Pet
Was their pet well-known and loved by all? Arrange an informal service at the park or set up an online pet memorial and invite everyone to share their memories and condolences.
Looking for other ideas? This sympathy gift guide has more great suggestions.
The Loss of a Pet Isn’t Easy…
…And it’s essential to acknowledge it.
We all experience grief differently, and your grieving friend is no exception. Use the tips outlined above to offer comfort and practical help during their difficult time.
Now that you know what to say when someone loses a pet, what’s next? Be sure to browse the rest of our site for more helpful advice and information.