If you know someone who is going through a pet loss, what to say can sometimes be tricky, especially if you've never experienced such a loss yourself. A pet's death can bring on deep pain and sadness, which can linger as the person processes the death. After all, pets are often seen as beloved family members and are an integral part in people's daily routines. When they die, it leaves a void in the household. And there might be reminders of them—such as missing their greeting when you return home—that can keep triggering the sadness surrounding their death.
So offering comforting words for the loss of a pet can be a huge help. What to say when someone loses a pet should ultimately be individualized for the situation. For instance, you can share some sweet experiences you had with that pet if possible. The most important thing to remember is to be sensitive, sympathetic, and understanding. Remember that there are stages of grief even for pet loss, and the impact of the loss might not happen right away. Many people start out in shock or denial, and they break down days or even weeks later.
What to Say When Someone Has Lost a Pet
Offer your sympathy and support as soon as possible to comfort a friend or family member who has lost a pet. Give them a text or call to see whether they'd like to talk. Be a good listener, letting them share what their pet—and the loss—means to them.
If you sense that kind words from you are welcome, share your own positive memories of the animal. If you never got to know the pet, that's OK too. You don't have to say much, as long as your words are sensitive and show that you care. Consider the following quotes for what you can say when someone's pet dies:
- [Pet's name] is going to be missed by everyone who knew them. They were truly a special animal.
- You gave [pet's name] such an amazing life. They were lucky to have found you.
- You and [pet's name] had such a special bond. It was clear how much they loved you.
- I'm so sorry to hear about [pet's name]. I'm here for anything you need during this difficult time.
- I realize your home will feel very empty without [pet's name], and I'm here for anything you need.
- I'm so sorry for your loss. [Pet's name] will be deeply missed.
- I know [pet's name] was an incredible companion for you. I'm here for you during this difficult time.
- I'm so sorry for the loss of [pet's name]. I hope all the happy memories you had with them will help comfort you.
- I know how much [pet's name] meant to you. They were lucky to have had you as their person.
- It's never easy losing a family member. We're all going to miss [pet's name].
- I know [pet's name] will always be near and dear to your heart. I'm thinking about you during this time.
- [Pet's name] was such a sweet and loving soul. I hope your memories of them will bring you comfort during this time.
- We never have enough time with our pets, but you gave [pet's name] the best life possible with the precious time you had.
- [Pet's name] made everyone who met them fall in love with them. They will never be forgotten.
- It's never easy saying goodbye. Deepest sympathies for the loss of [pet's name].
What to Do After the Loss of a Pet
There are several things you can do when a relative or friend's pet dies. For example, sometimes people have a difficult time removing their pet's items, such as the bedding, toys, and food bowls. Offer to clean, sort, and pack up the items. At some point, the person might wish to use them again for another pet or donate them. But they might not be ready to make those decisions or even handle all of the items so soon after their pet's death. Or they might appreciate you going through all of the items with them to offer comfort and moral support as they reminisce about their pet. Just be ready to listen and follow their lead.
Moreover, you might be able to help out your friend or relative who lost a pet by offering to clean their home. Some pets at the end of their life have accidents in the home that need cleaning. Or they simply might require lots of their owner's attention, meaning regular household chores might not get accomplished. Ask your friend or relative where you can pitch in. Even simply bringing them a meal or some groceries can be a kind gesture and one fewer thing for them to worry about.
A thoughtful sympathy note is always welcome to comfort a friend or relative who lost a pet. There are many options for what to say instead of just "sorry for your loss." Take time to write sincere words that let the person know you're thinking of them. Start out by acknowledging the loss and offering your sympathy. If you knew the animal, add one of your own memories. And offer to listen when your friend or relative is ready to talk.
Other Ways to Offer Condolences
The sadness of the pet loss will be there, regardless of what you say or do. However, there are some thoughtful gestures that can help a person through the grieving process. They include:
- Send flowers.
- Make a donation to a pet-oriented charity.
- Offer to host a memorial service for the pet.
- Have a tree or shrub planted in your friend or relative's yard (with their approval) in honor of the pet.
What Not to Say or Do
It can be difficult to find the right words that will provide comfort for a friend or relative who lost a pet. Sometimes the best intentions can backfire and hurt more than help.
Here are some examples of what not to say when a pet dies:
- "Don't cry." Crying is part of the grieving process for many people.
- "It's just a [dog/cat/etc.]." A comment like this that downplays the loss is mean and thoughtless. You don't know what the pet meant to that person.
- "You'll feel better soon." While this might be true, at the moment the person is deeply in grief and feels terrible. So you should acknowledge that grief and offer sympathy.
- "They're better off now." Regardless of how much the pet suffered, the person is hurting. And reminding them of their pet's suffering won't help.
- "You'll feel better if you get another pet." A new pet can't replace the one who died, and suggesting as much might come across as offensively downplaying the loss. The person will get another pet if and when they feel ready.