The Worst Things You Can Say to Someone Who Just Lost a Pet

4. You need to move on.

While there are ways to express concern if you think someone's grief has turned a corner and they might need help (like sharing information about grief-support resources with them or helping them to find a support group or mental health professional), let's ditch the stigma that surrounds mourning the loss of a pet. It's normal to feel sad — devastated, even — for some period of time, and that can differ greatly for each person. Some people might feel pretty much back to normal after a few days, while others might find themselves bursting into tears months or even years later. Say it with me now: "It is OK to be sad about losing your pet."

5. That's why I don't have pets. Those short lifespans are too heartbreaking.

I'll bet you almost anything that the person you're talking to has thought (or even said aloud) that they can't go through this pain again, and they just can't have more pets. The years of joy and love our pets give us prior to their passing truly do make up for the pain we feel at the time of goodbye, but in the throes of grief, it's hard to remember that. I know you're just trying to commiserate, but if you don't have pets, I'm certain it's for more reasons than just the heartbreak at the end.

6. He was really old; it was just his time.

If the pet was old when he passed away, there might be some comfort in knowing that he lived a good, long life, but that might also mean that we shared alot of memories with that pet, making his passing feel more tragic to us than it might to outsiders. When you can't remember life without someone — human or animal — it certainly adds to the sting of saying goodbye. However, that doesn't mean that the death of a younger pet is easier. It doesn't take long to fully bond with an animal, and our grief may be compounded by the shock of losing a young animal. Bottom line: No time is a good time to lose a best friend.

7. Maybe you should've [insert any suggestion — literally anything — here].

Oh. Oh, no, you did not say that (or any variation, like, "Did you try _____?" or "Oh, I know a specialist you should've seen!"). I know you didn't say that. Whatever you're suggesting we should have done — more tests! fewer treatments! more time at the dog park! euthanized sooner! waited it out! tested for something earlier! — it is too late. If there's something we could've beaten ourselves up about, believe me, we've done it. Ad nauseum. And if you're bringing up something we hadn't thought of? Well, why on earth would you do that? That doesn't help at all.

In the end, the best thing you can do is offer your love and support without judging the depth of our emotion. You don't have to understand it; just please don't question it.

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