Pet Loss Grief Support Animals in our Hearts  Animal Communication Teresa Wagner
  • To be truly present with someone's pain without feeling a need to fix it, reconcile it, or recoil from it, is one of the most powerful gifts we can give another.

Tips to Support Others Who Grieve

Grief is indifferent to the species lost

Comments from Grievers:

Participants in Legacies of Love workshop

The following comments are the actual words of participants of my Legacies of Love workshops held since 1986.

A heartfelt "thank you" to these wonderful people, who have offered a part of their story of grief to help the rest of us learn.

Supportive things others have done or said in regard to my animal loss: How it made me feel:
A stranger saying "you have my profound sympathy" Relief, someone understood
"I'm sorry" Understood
Priest presided over a service for our dog. Relieved, forgiven
My friend was with me when my dog was euthanized. Later, she asked if I was going to be all right. Later still, she dropped off a soufflé casserole for my dinner. Cared for and respected
I was asked to read the poem I wrote about my dog and at my meditation group That the group cared and was concerned about my loss
Staff from a rehab center next door to my home brought me a stuffed doggie so "I wouldn't be lonesome" That my grief was recognized. I loved their caring attitude
What does this feel like for you? Cared for
Listened Validated
Asked, "Can I help you call people?" Loved the help
Close friend took initiative to help Relieved
Recanting specific incidents Happy, loved
Saying "It's all right to grieve" Cared about
Saying "Take time to care for yourself now" Cared about
I understand it is painful Understood
When the time comes (for euthanasia) I'll be there if you want me to Overjoyed
After the death of my horse a friend knocked softly then left. I opened the door to find a gift package and a beautiful card. Happy to know someone knew how I felt about needing to be alone, but still reached out in my sorrow
An offer to call to talk anytime of the day or night Supported in my grief
Several sympathy cards and loving, heart felt, caring, authentic notes. Also beautiful flowers Loved. Acknowledged, like they cared and understood
Words of deep, profound understanding Like someone loves animals the way I do
Silent understanding, sharing stories, laughing and crying together with my friend and ex-husband Knowing we could talk about it when no one else could
Saying "I understand," nodding, sometimes even crying Better, acknowledged, understood
Saying "I know how much you loved your dog" Acknowledged
Saying "I know it hurts" Like they cared
Boyfriend taking day off to be with me Supported and loved
Someone sent a poem in the mail Warm and comforted

To know someone who thinks and feels with us. . .
and who is close to us in spirit, makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.

~ Goethe

Unsupportive things others have done or said in regard to my animal loss: How it made me feel:
"You'll have more freedom now" Desolate
"You had to give too much time to that big dog anyway" He was my fun, beloved dog, a definite important part of my life. I no longer socialize with that person.
Not hearing from a close friend Sad, unloved; hurt, angry
She lived a full life Angry. Who are you to judge the appropriate length of a life!
"Don't blame yourself" Of course I blame myself. In human life it would have been negligence.
"Why don't you just go get another dog" Startled! How could she consider that another dog could easily replace her? She was not just my dog, she was my little girl.
"I knew it was just a matter of time" Enraged! I wanted to hit her. I couldn't look at her.
I heard someone say about me, ". . .oh she's doing better. It's been five weeks now." Violated. If you don't know how I'm feeling then don't assume you do. Say "I don't know."
"Well, he's not in pain now" Sad
"You'll get over it. Everyone goes through a few bad days" Like an alien from Mars ~ thoroughly misunderstood and estranged
"Good thing he died before the ground froze, then you'd have to take your horse to the dump" Furious, cut off
"You have lots of other animals" So? What has that got to do with my grief for the animal I lost?
Not even listening to me Angry, let down. Why did I even count on this person as a friend if they can't even listen.
Disappearing for about five days after my cat died. Really lonely. The person I spent the most time with leaving me during such pain.
"It's just a part of life. You're going to have to get over it." Duh. No shit, but right now all I feel is sadness. I'm not ready to get over it yet.
"You have to accept this." Dumbfounded
"He's happy, he's OK. Someone is probably caring for him" (lost dog) Angry
"Have you considered that your dog was taken to a research lab?" (lost dog) Helpless
"Why didn't you do this, or do that?" Frustrated
"Get over it" Guarded
"It was for the best. She's through suffering" Horrible. Did I contribute to the suffering?
"I know what you are going through" VERY rarely does anyone know
"They lived a good, long life" Ticked, Dumb comment.
"What you need to get over this is to get back to work, and a good kick in the ass." Wanted to kill this person

Sadly, many people who suffer loss also experience a second injury,
at the hands of those who wish to comfort and support them, but don't know how.
Out of anxiety or ignorance, they say and do hurtful things.
Or worse they abandon their friend or loved one
because they don't know what to say or do.

~ Janice Harris Lloyd, Beyond Sympathy