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The Gentlest Way to Reveal the Death of a Pet


Grieving Process

Posted On: May 23, 2017

The Gentlest Way to Reveal the Death of a Pet

The loss of a pet is heartbreaking in and of itself. It's even harder when you discover the death and then have to tell your loved ones and the animal's other owners that the beloved creature now lives at the rainbow bridge. Whether you have to tell a child, a teenager, or an adult, it's never easy. No pet owner who loves her or his animal wants to hear that it's dead. No one wants to deliver that news, either. You don't always know the right thing to say, but you don't want to be insensitive or make this a traumatizing event. The following tips work for pet owners of any age. If you are the person delivering the news, you can adapt these techniques to the individual, the pet, and the situation.

Choose Your Timing Wisely

It may feel like you have a responsibility to tell a pet owner about this tragic loss right away but stop and think. What are the other people who love the animal doing at the moment? You can't reveal news like this to someone who's at work, at school, or in transit. Ask yourself this: is the person in a place where she or he would feel comfortable breaking down or showing emotion? Also, ask yourself if there's anyone around to comfort the bereaved when they receive this news. If the answers to those questions are no, then hold off saying anything and wait for a better moment. The pet's owner(s) might initially feel angry that you didn't share the news right away, but if you explain your reasoning, it will make sense.

Keep the Details Sparse at First

In time, the animal's other owners may ask about the specific details surrounding the loss. The only exception to this rule is if you're able to say that the pet died peacefully or without suffering. Even if you have to share general information, wait until some of the shock wears off before revealing too much. Let the other people who loved the animal ask questions in their own time.

Show Your Support

It's not enough to reveal news of the loss as kindly and compassionately as possible. You have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Share your grief and allow the other pet owners to share theirs. Be there for each other. Allow yourselves to cry with each other. You've lost a dear, furry friend and family member. It's painful.

No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but the role falls upon all of us at some point. Think to yourself how you'd like to receive news that a well-loved pet died. Have you ever been in this situation?