When a beloved pet dies, the emotions of a grieving pet parent are all over the freaking board.
Then add those people who either don’t get the grief we feel or those who just don’t care. Whatever it is, things are said that add to our emotional and physical distress. I thought I’d shed some light on this for anyone wanting, needing, or being asked to support a hurting pet lover.
Here’s a list of 5 things NOT to say when someone shares their hurt with you:
“It’s just an animal.” For us, they are more than that. We have a bond with our pet loves that’s so hard to describe and put into words. For us, it’s a deep relationship filled with unconditional love, acceptance, and so much more. Don’t question it, just respect it.
“You should get another one. That will help.” Saying this makes us feel like the little spirit we just lost can easily be replaced. Let us openly and without judgement honor THIS life. When and if the time is right, we might get another love, but it doesn’t mean we are replacing the one we lost.
“Losses of humans are bigger than the loss of a pet.” Grief is grief, and loss is loss. There’s no need to rank it, so let us have this one for what it is.
“It’s too bad pets don’t go to heaven.” Everyone’s got their own opinion on this topic. If we as pet lovers want to believe in the mystery of seeing our pets again, then we want to believe in that mystery. Keep your opinions to yourself!
Don’t say “I understand.” NO YOU DON’T. You can never “understand” someone’s grief, or their feelings. You can understand your OWN feelings and emotions, but you cannot remotely understand someone else’s. You know how YOU felt when your beloved pet died, but you did not walk in someone else’s shoes and share the same journey. Instead, you can empathize. Instead of saying “I understand”, say something along the lines of “tell me about the life you shared with your precious love.” Honor their story, as it’s as unique as yours was.
If you’re not a pet lover, chances are you don’t get what we are feeling, and we’re not asking you to. Just respect it.