What Not to Say When Someone Loses a Pet

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What to Say When Someone Loses a Petanjajuli - Getty Images

For many people, beloved pets are a part of the family. So, when a pet — especially a companion animal passes away, it can be devastating for those left behind. Their absence can leave a huge void in their household that can be felt for years to come, and in some cases, forever.

Know someone who’s suffering from the loss of their pet, but not sure what to say? We get it. It’s not always easy to find the right words that will express your condolences while being respectful and tactful. That’s why we’ve come up with some sample sentences and prompts to help you figure out what to say when someone loses a pet.

Whether the pet died unexpectedly, ran away or had to be put down as a result of a lengthy terminal disease, losing a pet is hard for the owner regardless of the circumstances. “Grief is tenacious and can dig deep into the heart,” says Wendy Van de Poll, MS, CEOL, a pet grief expert and founder of the Center for Pet Loss Grief and Center for Animal Communication. “It affects daily routines and can leave someone feeling very hopeless. The seven stages of grief are extremely valuable; the order in which people experience them is truly up to them. It is important to let them unfold naturally.”

Offering kind and comforting words is a great way to let the bereaved know that you’re thinking of them in a way that acknowledges their loss. For inspiration, scroll through these sympathetic expressions for what you can say (and what you shouldn’t) when a pet dies:

What not to say

Saying the wrong thing can lead to hurt feelings and sour some of the closest relationships. “It can be difficult to know what to say at the right time, and we can find ourselves bumbling for words,” Van de Poll says. “If you know someone who has lost their pet, the best is to prepare yourself ahead of time to become aware of unintentional yet potentially hurtful comments.”

She suggests avoiding saying the following three things to someone who has lost a pet:

  • It’s only a pet you can get another.

  • Are you still grieving?

  • Let me tell you what I did after my pet died.

What to say or do in person

Pet loss is an individual journey. So, as a friend or family member offering support, remember to be sensitive and keep in mind that what you say should reflect your personal relationship with the owner.

Try some of these examples:

  • I’m sorry for the loss of [pet’s name]. They were an awesome companion who brought you so much joy.

  • I’m here for you. Take your time. I know how much [pet’s name] meant to you.

  • [Pet’s name] will be missed and live in our hearts forever.

  • The special bond between you and [pet’s name] is unbreakable. The memories can never be taken away.

  • I am sorry to hear about the passing of [pet’s name]. He brought so much joy to all of our lives.

  • We know that [pet’s name] lived a wonderful life because they had you as their person.

  • It’s never easy losing a family member. We know that [pet’s name] was more than family to you.

  • [Pet’s name] was so lovable and adorable. They will be sorely missed.

  • It’s never easy saying goodbye to our loved ones. [Pet’s name] will live on in all our hearts.

  • I’m thinking of you during this difficult time. May the beautiful memories [pet’s name] bring you comfort.

  • We’re going to miss [pet’s name] so much! They really brightened our lives.

  • [Pet’s name] was the absolute best companion who loved you unconditionally. I know this is an incredibly hard time, but know that I am here for you.

  • You gave [pet’s name] a wonderful life. May their spirit live on in our hearts.

  • [Pet’s name] was such a gentle and loving soul. Their calming presence will be missed.

  • Nothing can ever take away your precious memories of [pet’s name]. They will always be a part of you.

  • [Pet’s name] made everyone’s day brighter. Their friendly and sweet spirit will be greatly missed.

broken with grief female dog grieving owner holding the lovely pet collar and deep weeping about animal loss home pets relatives and love concept
Solovyova - Getty Images

What to say over text or write in a sympathy card

  • I’m so sorry for the loss of [pet’s name]. May I make a donation in their honor to a charity of their choice?

  • I’m thinking of you. Remember I’m only a text message away for anything you may need.

  • Sending deep condolences and endless love. My sincere thoughts are with you during this hard time. I'd like to drop by some groceries sometime this week–please let me know what works for your schedule.

  • Just checking in. I know every day is different, but know that I’m always here for you.

  • Deepest condolences on the loss of [pet’s name]. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  • I know you’re going through a difficult time. I’m always here to be a listening ear.

  • May the memories of [pet’s name] bring you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

  • I’m here if you ever need anything. I know [pet’s name] was the light of your life.

  • [Pet’s name] always made me smile. I am here for you for whatever you may need.

  • Thinking of you during this difficult time. Know that you are loved.

  • I'm so sorry for your loss. I am here for you and am ready to help in any way I can.

  • Hold tight to the countless, wonderful memories you shared with [pet’s name]. Think of them during this challenging time.

  • Words cannot express how saddened I am to hear about your loss. My condolences are with you and your family during this time of grief.

  • Please accept my condolences on the passing of [pet’s name].

  • I know I can’t take the pain away, but I want you to know that I am here for you.

  • My heart goes out to you. I’m deeply sorry for the loss of [pet’s name]. I hope happy memories will comfort you during this difficult time.

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