The worst thing someone can hear when grieving the loss of an animal is "You can get another one!’. Some people assume it shouldn’t hurt as much as losing a family member or a friend, but every tutor knows there’s no such thing as ‘just a pet’. They're our best friends and loyal companions. They can provide love, support, laughter, and boundless energy. With them we share our lives and our hearts - that's why you need to know how to comfort a friend who has lost a pet.
Studies show that dogs and humans have been suggested to be especially good at activating each other’s oxytocin levels (commonly known as the ‘love hormone’ and making us feel warm and fuzzy inside)  - meaning that to simply gaze into the eyes of our best friends can make us feel instantly happier and fulfilled.
Given the strength of the bond between humans and animals though, it’s perfectly natural if your friend or someone close to you experiences intense sorrow, confusion, and grief after the loss of a pet.
If someone in your life is currently wrestling with these feelings, the best thing you can do is show them your sympathy and let them know that you care about their pet. Here are some more things you can do to comfort a friend who has lost a pet that will make a world of difference.
Listen & Validate
The most common feelings for someone who is grieving the loss of a pet are isolation and loneliness. Not only from losing a companion, but it’s also common for people to feel deeply misunderstood in their grief. Comments like ‘It’s just a pet’, while trying to put things in perspective, only make things worse. So to comfort and help them try the opposite route: actively listen and validate what your friend or loved one is going through. Never make them feel ashamed or guilty for grieving.
Remind Them That Grief is a Journey
Following the loss of a pet, your friend is about to experience a process without a definite end date. The support of friends and family is essential, so be a companion and remind them they don’t have to go through it alone. Go on daily walks, check in with a phone call, make yourself present. If you’ve been through something similar, share your experience and remind them that what they’re feeling is completely normal.
Encourage Them to be Active
A pilot study designed to compare bereaved pet owners  used depressive symptoms as the outcome measure: those who had their pets the longest and didn't take active measures to cope with grief also happened to experience the most serious symptoms.
Encourage or join your friend in activities that will both lead them through the stages of grief in the long-term, and provide a boost to their mood in the short-term. Drawing, writing poetry, or other artistic expressions may help a lot. Meditating, exercising or going for a long bike ride will get those oxytocin levels back up where they belong.
Gift the Memory of a Life Well-Lived
One of the best ways to provide comfort to your friend is to help them reframe the loss of a pet with a gift that celebrates their life instead. There are several ways to keep those precious memories of a pet alive as a tribute or memorial gift that can bring your friend comfort every day of their journey. Preserving those special memories of their pet can be done in a number of ways: using images, words or artwork, for example.
Here are the 10 pet memorial gift ideas that are sure to help your friend cope with the loss:
Create a legacy: pay a tribute to celebrate the fun and love you shared with your pet. Here's a personalized picture frame, for a memorial to one of your most treasured friendships.
Memories can help healing: having our loved pets with us during soothing moments like whenever grabbing a cup of coffee or some tea can bring us a heartwarming calmness.
Show some love: sympathy keepsakes are a great way to demonstrate your support.
Let it out: by expressing your grief you’ll likely need less time to heal than if you kept these feelings “bottled up”. You can write something beautiful or show your sympathy on these custom cards.
Keep them close: stamping a shirt can also be a fun lighthearted way to honor your pet.
Hang in there: it would be hard for anyone to part with the deceased animal’s tags. Here's a shadow box where the collar and other objects can be perfectly set.
Fluffy pal: You may be able to find a perfect replica - one-of-a-kind stuffed animals based on the images you provide.
Always over your heart: a piece of jewelry is perfect for someone in mourning - a personal gift that will remind the wearer of their faithful companions.
Stay cozy: pick a custom scent for your loved one. Candles are a small way to make anyone’s home warmer and more inviting.
Blossoming love: purchase a package of flower seeds to plant somewhere special. You may also include a garden stake displaying the name of the recently lost animal.
Why It's Important to Be There
Losing a pet can be a devastating experience so It’s important to take time to help your friend grieve and work through the emotions. Just as it took them time to build a relationship with their pet, it will take time to get used to them not being there. You’re should be there to make that time more comfortable for them.
Don’t forget to remind them to be kind to themselves and engage in self-care as your friend navigates the grieving process. Make some extra space for their regular self-care activities or simply try something new you think could feel restorative.
It’s never easy to lose a pet, but it is possible to find peace after loss especially if you provide comfort to your friend and remind them to commit those happiest, irreplaceable moments to memory.