How To Support Someone Who Has Lost A Pet.
Things you can do
Remember that people grieve differently, and your loved one may not grieve in the way you expect. Try to respect their process, and be there for them in the different ways that they need. Remember that just being there goes a long way in supporting someone who is grieving. It sounds simple, but it is very effective.
Encourage them to not rely on distractions to cope. This is an adjustment that they are going through, and taking time or leave from work can allow them to grieve.
Encourage your loved one to take friends and family up on their offers of help. It can be tempting for them to try and manage on their own, but this help can free them up to rest as they grieve.
Sleep may be disrupted for your loved one as he or she adjusts to the loss of their beloved pet, and their grief. Encouraging them to take a walk outside with you can aid in improving sleep.
Similarly, your loved one may lose his or her appetite during this period of grief, and adjustment. Making sure they eat regularly can be a practical way you can help them. Prepare some meals that you know they usually like.
You may like to help your loved one in memorialising their beloved pet. You may also like to share your favourite memories of their pet. Acknowledging the presence of their pet prior to the loss can encourage your loved one to share their own memories, and helps them to feel that their grief is being shared.
Things you can say
“I’m here for you”.
“Do you need to talk?”
“Would you like some company? We don’t have to talk.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Talk about your favourite memories of their pet, and listen to theirs.
“I’m thinking of you.”
“Do you need a hug?”
“I am going to the supermarket. Do you need any X/Y/Z?”
“How are you doing?”
Sometimes saying nothing at all, and a simple hug or sitting with them can be very comforting.
This educational series is part of a Client Support Program proudly delivered in partnership with Sunset Veterinary Care.
For more information on veterinary palliative care visit www.sunsetvets.com.au.
UQ Psychology Clinic
Dr Leander Mitchell DPsych (ClinNeuro&ClinPsy), PhD, MAPS
CRICOS PROVIDER NUMBER 00025B