Pets bring years and years of joy to most people’s lives. Humans and pets share a bond that is so special that words struggle to define it. But the sad truth that most pet owners face is that one day, their pet dies.
It’s a difficult subject to talk about. But it’s important.
Helping your friends through the loss of a furry family member is the right thing to do. You need to look out for them.
But what’s the best way to do this?
Everyone is unique and will have their own set of responses to the loss of their pet. But there are also some emotional states that are common to all people who are getting over the loss of a pet.
Here are some tips for helping your friend through a pet’s loss. They will apply to most grieving pet owners:
Discuss how special the pet was to your friend, if they are open to it.
There’s no need to skirt around the subject forever. Although it may be hard to bring up, discussing the bond that your friend and their pet had can be essential.
If someone represses the memory of their pet, then it can make acknowledging and moving on from the event much harder.
The main tip here is to judge the right time to bring it up.
The immediate aftermath of a pet’s death is likely to be far too soon. The shock of the loss will make it a tricky subject.
Instead, wait a few days (or weeks, judging on how your friend is responding) and ask them if they want to talk about their loss. Perhaps you can mention that the person seems really moved by the pet’s passing.
Just approach the subject with tact and sympathy! If the friend says that they don’t want to talk about the loss, then accept it and let them know that you can talk whenever they want to.
A key part of this includes being mindful of how you discuss the loss.
Even though it’s an animal, your friend might be feeling a pet’s loss more strongly than if a human family member had died. Some people have bonds that are that strong with their pets.
Therefore, you should never try to trivialize the loss. Saying something such as “You can always get a new one,” or “They were just a dog,” can be terrible, as it seems like you’re attacking the friend’s grief.
Literally discuss the pet’s death in the same way you would a human’s death. Even if you can’t comprehend the strong outpouring of emotions, you need to be there for the friend. It’s clearly incredibly important for them.
So how long will a friend go through this experience?
It’s entirely circumstantial.
While the process of grieving has been mapped out by many psychologists, every person goes through it at their own speed.
So apply things like the five stages of grief, which are shock, denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance, but realize that people move in their own ways and have their ups and downs.
Someone can appear to finally be getting over their loss only to lapse back into an angry state. That may be the case. And it isn’t fun for anybody.
Just remember to be there for them, be willing to talk about the subject, be respectful in how you talk and give the person time to come to terms with their circumstances.
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