The presence of a pet can bring immense joy and comfort to life. These special family members are by your side through numerous life events, ranging from weddings and new babies to job losses and relocations. You talk to them, share secrets with them, cuddle them and go running with them. Consequently, when they pass away, the blow can be devastating; after all, they’ve been a part of your life for many years, and you have hundreds of wonderful memories of times spent together.
Whether someone is missing a bird, hamster, fish, cat or dog, it’s important to understand that they’re grieving. As with the death of a person, considerate actions are helpful in aiding their mourning process. Here, then, are 7 thoughtful gestures that can bring comfort to someone who lost a pet.
1. A Handwritten Note
In today’s world, where a quick text or email is the norm, it’s meaningful to take the time to mail a heartfelt handwritten note to your friend. Think about sharing a specific memory about their pet, such as that week when the dog carried a tennis ball everywhere or when everyone got a kick out of how their fish seemed to dance in the water whenever a certain song played on the radio.
Sharing memories may help the pet owner find solace at a time when it can be difficult to shake images of the last (sometime upsetting) moments they shared with their pet.
2. Pet-Related Jewelry
You can find a variety of animal-related jewelry online and in stores. From cat and horse pendants to dog or fish bracelet charms, you’re sure to find something appropriate that keeps your friend’s pet close to their heart . It doesn’t even have to be about the animal itself; it may be a bone-shaped charm or one that looks a basket of yarn.
3. A Video or Collage
There are lots of video-creating tools that are either very inexpensive or free, allowing you to upload pictures and set them in motion. YouTube also allows you to do this; simply upload pictures, choose the speed at which each image will be shown (e.g. a new picture every few seconds), set it to music if you prefer, then send it to your friend. You can even opt to choose a private setting so only your friend can see the YouTube video link.
Of course, there are other methods, but the point is that your friend will be able to reminisce and fondly recall their pet thanks to your creative compilation. Printing pictures and assembling them in a nice album will achieve the same effect.
4. A Donation
A nice gesture can also involve making a donation in the deceased pet’s name. Chances are, your friend is an animal lover and likely has a favorite animal shelter. It may be the place where they initially got their pet, or somewhere else where they regularly donate food and supplies. Whatever the location, donating in the name of the pet is a thoughtful way of preserving special memories while also benefiting other animals.
A thoughtful gesture doesn’t always have to be a material one; talking can be very meaningful, especially when people today are typically very rushed. Make a point of carving out some time to talk with your friend either in person or over the phone. Consider discussing a time when you lost a pet, and let them know you understand the tough time they are going through.
Hearing about your emotions during such a hard time may help the person learn more about their own feelings. As a result, they may realize that their thoughts are not out of the ordinary. Talking isn’t for everyone, but it often paves the way for the pet owner to open up and perhaps express what they may otherwise be repressing.
6. A Meaningful Book
Some people prefer to read books about death to help them cope. Whether it’s about better understanding spirituality or the nature of death in general, reading is often a helpful tool during the grieving process. For example, “The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies” by Wallace Sife offers comforting advice to bereaved pet owners. Other book choices may be “All Pets Go to Heaven” by Sylvia Browne or “For Every Dog an Angel” by Christine Davis (which is said to be good for cat lovers as well).
7. Pet Memorial Cards
Your friend may not be aware of pet memorial cards. Similar to ones sent when people pass away, the laminated cards can carry the pet’s picture, birth and death dates and a significant poem or meaningful phrase. This is especially important if your friend knows numerous people who should be informed about the death (as a minimum of several dozen cards must typically be ordered).
From acquaintances at the local dog park to colleagues and family members who also loved the animal, a memorial card could be a nice idea. Some memorial cards include the very touching “A Poem for Cats” or “Creation” (which takes on a religious tone when outlining God’s creatures). The latter one ends by saying “I’ve turned my own name back to front and called you Dog, my friend.” Considering mentioning this to your friend, and if they like the idea, you may want to purchase the cards for them. At the very least, you may have shed some light on a concept they might not have otherwise considered.