Monday, September 30, 2013

When a Friend Loses a Pet – 7 Meaningful Do's and Don’ts from Petfinder Foundation

Via PRWeb - There are over 82.5 million pet parents in the U.S. buying anything from elevated car seats, to imported Peruvian sweaters and gluten-free food. Pets sleep on the bed and often hold the place of most significant other.

For many, owning a pet is the only experience of parenthood he or she will ever have. Consequently, it is awful when they pass away. If the grieving pet parent is your friend, here are the best ways you can help, including a few emphatic “don’ts.”

1. Don’t say things like, "It's only a cat," or suggest a replacement pet right away. "Some people still do not realize that pet loss is an authentic cause for bereavement and recovering takes time," says Emily Fromm, vice president of development at the Petfinder Foundation. In all cases, do let your friend know you are available to listen, but know that she might prefer to grieve alone.

2. Give a card to express your sympathy. If you've experienced the death of a pet yourself, relate how you felt. This can make your friend feel less alone.

3. Write a handwritten note. According to USPS, the average person receives handwritten mail only once every seven months. So holding a letter in your hand is rare and very personal. Include a happy memory you have of their pet or describe the special ways you noticed they interacted with each other.

4. Honor their pet with a memorial donation. "Many people want to give the pet a meaningful legacy by helping to save the lives of other animals in need," Fromm says. The Petfinder Foundation has a program in which donors can post a pet photo and include some words in his or her memory on the organization's online memorial wall. The organization sends out a gift packet which includes an individual pet name charm and a letter about the memorial.

5. Frame a photo. If you don't have a photo of your friend's pet, check Facebook. Most people share at least a few pictures of their pets and some pets even have their own pages.

6. Use the photo to make a custom gift. Some online services will manufacture your choice of keepsake from scratch. One of the best is Fuzzy Nation. They have a large selection of customizable home décor and personal accessories.

7. Help your friend find grief support. If you search "pet loss" online you will find many websites with supportive communities. The site petloss.com offers many different types of support.

14 comments:

  1. So timely, especially when considering our community just lost Cokie!

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  2. Excellent and empathetic tips-thanks for posting:-)

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  3. Having just lost a pet, I think the most meaningful things said to me were those that acknowledged that my Daisy was gone, but reminded me of the good times we had. All this "Rainbow Bridge" stuff may be comforting for some people, but it's empty sentimentality to me. I appreciate the heartfelt sympathy for my sadness and my loss, which is permanent, not temporary.

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  4. I often wondered if my getting another Beagle so soon was sort of like re-marrying too soon after a spouse's death. That bothered me...a lot. Then somebody said that it would be a tribute to my recently passed Beagle and an honor, something that she would have wanted me to do would be to rescue another needy animal from certain death. Who knows ... but it made sense to me.

    I guess if you see the Rainbow Bridge as empty sentimentalism, that is certainly your right to have that view. I think that it comes from the hearts of people that udnerstand the value and companionship of pets and perhaps may have gone through the a similar loss. Emptiness to me is somebody passing by that you rarely see and them saying "How ya doin'?" That is a meaningless sentence to me. The Rainbow Bridge comments are not.

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    1. I so agree, Robert. After losing two of our pets, and receiving the Rainbow Bridge note, I printed it on a beautiful piece of decorated stationery and sent it on to friends who lost a pet. They were so appreciative.

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    2. I found this "poem", of a Dog's Last Will very encouraging as a way to honor your dog and acknowledge the home you have to give.
      http://fortheloveofthedogblog.com/article/dog-writing-poetry/a-dogs-last-will-and-testament

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  5. After Misty my beloved Yorkie of15 years passed I was a mess.a month later my mother joined her. I stopped by a pet store and found a little Yorkie and had to bring her home. When I held her I could feel my heart mending. I was able to pour all my love to her that had no outlet. It was the right thing to do, for me at least.

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  6. A friend said "so sorry your time together was cut short but look how many wonderful years you gave him that he wouldn't have had if you hadn't rescued him when you did"

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  7. I tell my friends who have lost their pets that they gave their fur-babies the best life possible and their pets knew how much they were loved. And it's okay to grieve, they have lost a member of their family.

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  8. I have counseled hundreds of clients over the years as a vet tech. It is very difficult watching an owner grieve, and even more for us because we are on the next patient. But rest assured, our clients are not forgotten. I never forgot that Mrs.Smith or Mr. Brown was now sitting alone at home, looking at an empty bed and crying. I know that just a phone call was one of the most helpful things of all- letting them know that they were NOT forgotten or alone in their grief. Sometimes I would go to their house after work and sit with them for a while. Some just need to have an outlet to let out their pain to. Many love telling stories about how they got their little Fluffy or Gizmo. Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give another human.Take the time to just say, hey, if you need to talk about Roxie or Blackie, I'm here. And then just sit and listen.
    I never recommended a pet right away unless the owner was adamant about it. It's right for some and not for others. Suggesting a memorial, a funeral, a gathering or even a wake might be right for some and not others. Just ask them. But most of all, listen and hug!!

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  9. My cats have been the only children I've had, and my grief has been profound upon the deaths of Mandy, Katie and Bubba (ages 18, 17, and 19). The friends and family who have appreciated and acknowledged that have been my greatest source of comfort and support. I was so deeply touched when my vet sent a handwritten note when my Bubba died in July and made a donation to Feline Rescue in his memory. Likewise, the supervisor who said dismissively to my coworker back in 1994 when Mandy died, "You'd think she's lost a kid or something!" will never be forgotten, either! My cats are not "just like family;" they ARE family. And I'm not "attached" to them; I love them.

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  10. Great post, Vicki. This is extremely helpful info - it's often hard for people to know how to address those experiencing loss, and I'm sure these tips will be a big help

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