Condolences on the Loss of Your Pet

For many pet parents, a dog or cat is more than just a pet, they're family. So when your friend is grieving the loss of a beloved pet, you have to step up and show some sympathy. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips on how to do just that.

Richie Frieman,
January 27, 2014
Episode #281

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Man’s best friend, loyal companion, four-legged family member…these are terms of endearment used by pet lovers around the world.  

As a proud Beagle parent, my dog is much more than just a pet – he’s part of the family. And I know I'm not alone. That's why when a dog or cat passes away, most owners are beside themselves with grief, as they should be.  After all, most pets have been a part of their owners' lives for years, some even decades..

I’ve personally known people who have taken off a week of work because of a deceased pet.  In fact, just last year, a friend had trouble overcoming her grief at her dog's death and many people  thought she was being too dramatic about her loss. I found this to be rather rude considering that it's impossible to measure the level of grief someone has for a lost family member…of any species.

But how do you properly help console a friend when they lose a pet? What do you say? What do you avoid saying? How much time to do you give them to grieve? So, before you say - or do - the wrong thing, check out my top 3 quick and dirty tips on how to help a loved one grieve the loss of a pet:

Tip #1: Put Yourself in Their Shoes

For those who have (or had) pets, sympathy is easy. But for those who do not, understanding how someone feels when they lose a pet can be very difficult. One Modern Manners Guy Facebook friend named Mary emailed me about her brother-in-law Bill, who was grieving the loss of his Pug.  Mary said Bill was overreacting when he declined going to Mary’s dinner party because, as he said, he “wasn’t ready to be around people yet.” She was flabbergasted that he declined her party invitation at the last minute due to his dog dying. Mary was so upset, she didn't speak to Bill for a whole week. She wrote to me in the hopes that I would take her side in the debate. Unfortunately, I had to tell her that she was wrong in this case.

In this case, my verdict was that Mary was not putting herself in Bill’s shoes -- a very basic misstep many make.  Whether it’s the loss of a job, a relationship, or even an adorable Pug, regardless of whether or not you can relate, it’s essential to show empathy. Being understanding of someone in a time of sorrow – whatever the reason – is the backbone to any friendship. Although Mary couldn’t relate to Bill's grief, she should have still been there for him, and even more, she shouldn't have pushed him into attending a party, and then punished him for not showing up.


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