Hurtful Things People Say When You Lose a Pet – and How You Can Respond
If you have ever experienced the loss of a pet, you know the pain is deep, raw and genuine. These emotions of grief are real and the last thing you need is someone saying something hurtful to you.
The first thing I say to my clients is, “It is important to become aware, be prepared, and come to terms that people are going to say hurtful things to you” during your time of grief.
For the most part people do want to support you, yet they are unsure of what to say. They don’t mean to be hurtful, yet their words about your beloved companion’s death can trigger unexpected feelings or reactions. I will warn you, most of the time you will feel unprepared for these unsupportive statements.
Things That People Say
Here is a small fraction of what people typically say to someone after the loss of a pet. Being prepared on how to react is extremely important when your heart is raw with grief. In my books about coping with pet loss, I cover each one of these comments in more detail.
It’s Only and Dog/Cat/Bird/Horse/Bird – You Can Get Another One
When someone says this to you, this is the time for you to respond, “Thank you,” and make your exit. To engage and try to educate this person can be exhausting. It is your sole job when experiencing grief to not exert your emotional and physical energies on those who do not understand.
Are You Still Grieving?
This is a very insensitive question to pose to someone who is feeling sad or depressed when a pet has died. It suggests that there should be a time limit on the grief process and that you’ve taken it too far.
Grieving doesn’t just go away, and it does not have a timetable. If you hear this, you can politely respond, “Yes, I am,” and then again make your exit.
Let Me Tell You What I Did After My Pet Died
Although this statement may seem supportive, it can also be overwhelming and create feelings of guilt. Opening yourself up to a ton of advice now could be helpful, but it could also increase your feelings of anxiety, guilt, hopelessness and being overwhelmed.
A good way to respond is, “I appreciate your thoughts of concern, but I really need someone to listen to my feelings at this time.”
Do You Really Need a Counselor, Coach or Doctor to Get Over the Loss of Your Pet?
There is nothing wrong with seeking support when coping with your pet loss grief. In fact, it is normal when you experience grief and are finding it difficult to move on. The loss of pet is like losing a family member and can continue for a long period of time.
My clients express tremendous relief, when they learn to respond, “Yes, it has helped me understand what I am going through.”
Keep in mind, most people do want to support you when you are coping with the loss of your pet. Yet, for the most part they honestly don’t know what to do or say. It is up to you to take control of the situation. When using the suggestions in this article you will proceed appropriately.
Which hurtful comments have you heard? Have you received other comments that triggered your grief that are not listed here? How did you respond to the comments? Please join the conversation.
Wendy Van de Poll is a pioneering leader in the field of pet loss grief support and the human-animal bond. As a bestselling author, speaker and coach, she has passionately devoted her life to the mission of increasing the quality of life between animals and people. Wendy has run with wild wolves in Minnesota, coyotes in Massachusetts and foxes in her backyard. Please visit her website.