Making the decision to put a pet to sleep, and grieving the loss of a pet after euthanasia, is an incredibly stressful thing for any owner. At this time, it is essential to treat the owner with the utmost care and not say or do the wrong thing. The most innocuous comments or actions can be taken out of context, leading to unintended negative consequences.
At this most challenging time for a pet owner, what should you say to a friend going through it?
The most significant error you can make is to trivialize the relationship between the owner and their pet. Anything you consider saying that you believe might lighten the atmosphere is unlikely to have that effect. Some common well-intentioned but unhelpful comments include the following:
“Well, they were getting quite old.”
“They were quite sick anyway.”
“You could get another one.”
“It was only a pet!”
“But, you have other pets, though, don’t you?”
Whatever your comment, never refer to the pet as ‘it.’ However, even if you use the pet’s name, your comments are unlikely to be of any comfort.
This simple offer of assistance often goes the longest way to help a grieving pet owner. Offering such help will let your friend know that you are there for them.
Deciding to go through with pet euthanasia is a challenge for any pet owner. They will go through a lot of pain and do much soul-searching. Having a friend to talk to at this time will provide them with some of the comfort and support they need.
If you are someone who wants to express your support tangibly rather than through talking, you could send your friend some token of your support. A card, flowers, or making a donation to an animal shelter or charity are tangible ways you can express your condolences.
Having gone through with pet euthanasia, your friend may well be questioning themselves. Reassuring your friend about how good they were with their pet will help them cope with their loss.
Simply admitting to this fact can have a comforting effect on a grieving friend. If you are not comfortable dealing with such situations, this is often the best, or only, thing to say.
If you are a pet owner, you may well have gone through the painful process of pet euthanasia, or you might know others who have. Tell your friend that you understand their grief and that it’s okay to feel such despair.
No matter what you do or say to help your friend grieve over pet euthanasia, the important thing is to be there for them. Cloud9 vets understand the challenges of dealing with grieving the loss of a pet after euthanasia. We can provide you with care and support when you need it the most.