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

Woman holding plaster paw print
It's normal for someone who just lost a pet to feel sad or devastated for days or even months, so suggesting that it's time for the person to move on can be hurtful.

Grieving the loss of a pet is different for every single person, but it's always difficult. The support of friends and family who sympathize and care can make the grieving process easier, but a thoughtless word from someone who doesn't understand why a pet owner is just so sad can be extra hurtful.

Not sure what to say to a friend who is grieving the loss of a pet? Try this: Show up with a favorite snack, say you're sorry for the loss, share a happy memory about the beloved pet and offer to listen. In the end, you don't really need to say much of anything — but there are a few things you never want to say to someone who's just lost a pet.

1. So, when are you getting another animal?

Everyone grieves in his or her own way, and while some people find relief by bringing home a new furry (or feathered) friend quickly, others need time to mourn before opening their hearts and homes once again. There's no right (or wrong!) way to move forward, but now is not the time to talk about it. And please remember that when and if someone does add a new animal to their family, they are not replacing the pet who died. Don't ever suggest otherwise.

2. It was just a dog (or cat, hamster, bird, etc.).

It can be hard to understand the feelings that serious animal lovers have for their pets. We don't regard them as property; we think of them as family and we love them accordingly. So when we lose a pet, it's not like losing a ring with some sentimental value—it's like losing a part of ourselves. To hear someone denounce not just our lossbut also our reaction to it? It's salt in the wound and it's not helpful.

3. It's not like you lost a child.

Well, that's just awful. If we have a child, then at the very least, you're putting a terrible idea into our heads and possibly making us feel even more guilty for grieving the loss of a pet so heavily. And if we don't have a child — for whatever reason — then we really don't need someone telling us that we can't imagine what that grief would feel like. The whole, "Unless you're a parent, you couldn't possibly understand," argument should be shelved, especially at a time like this, thanks.

Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!