Coming home from a long day of work and there’s no wagging tail to greet you. A morning without a cold snout in your hand to wake you. The sudden lack of soothing purrs and gentle head butts of acknowledgment. Ask any pet parent and you’re likely to find that no matter how and when they lose their furry family members, pet loss is just as hard, for them, as losing a human family member. As fellow pet parents and animal lovers, the staff at Bayside has compiled a list of helpful tips you can use when you meet a fellow pet parent who’s grieving the loss of a pet.

Share Your Experience with Pet Loss

woman comforting a boy who has lost a pet

If you have your own experiences with the loss of a pet, share your story if they’re open to listening. Don’t compare notes or make it about yourself, but letting your loved one(s) know that you do understand the situation can help them feel less alone in their sadness. 

Create a Legacy for a Lost Pet

Whether a funeral or obituary ritual is what your near-and-dear pet parent wants after the loss of a pet, help them find the best way to create a long-lasting, positive legacy in their pet’s name. There are plenty of creative options for keeping a pet’s memory alive—from designing a custom piece of art or making a donation to a relevant animal rescue project. Small gestures always speak loudly.

Avoid a “Silver Linings” Approach

girl kissing her cat at home before he crossed the rainbow bridge

Never minimize the loss of a pet with basic platitudes of “they’re in a better place” or by trying to help your friends and family see the “bright side” of pet loss. Although they may have more freedom to travel, these statements diminish the feelings of grief and may lead to your loved one feeling even more isolated than before.

Listen, Listen, Listen

Grief has its own timeline, and it is very rarely linear. The real depths may not hit immediately, but weeks or months after the loss of a four-legged friend. Some days will be better (or worse) than others. No matter what the timeline looks like, always be present and actively listen to your grieving friends and family.

Let them know you see them, that you understand their grief, and that you’re there to help if & when they need it. If it seems appropriate, and you knew their pet, share some of your favorite memories of them to add some levity to the situation.

Build New, Positive Routines

three girls creating new routines in place of old pet routines

The loss of a pet can create voids in different areas of our lives, mainly our daily routines. These sudden changes in routine, which our days are often handcrafted around, can have ripple effects beyond the loss itself. Creating new routines can help fill some of the voids left following the death of a pet—be it a weekly happy hour or yoga class. You can offer simple suggestions that will, at least momentarily, take the pet loss off of their mind.

We love and adore all of your fur babies and wish them the longest, happiest lives with you! But, in the unfortunate event that you or a close friend is experiences the devastating loss of a pet, please know– you are not alone.

If grief is getting the best of you, contact your fellow pet parents, pet lovers, and veterinary staff for recommendations for support groups or other resources.