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.