Respond to Friends’ Pet Loss with Sympathetic Calls, Letters

Mar 23, 2017 | 1 comment

Dog and catToday’s Dear Abby column addresses how important it is to respond to friends who experience the death of beloved pets. Grief over pet loss can be more intense than reactions over people who die.

If you see news about a friend’s loss of a pet on Facebook, write a supportive comment. Even better, pick up the phone and talk to that person. If you are a card-sending person, send a sympathy card. There are cards specifically created for pet loss.

DEAR ABBY: We recently lost one of our cherished pets, our oldest cat, Mandy. We never had children, so our pets are our children.

I get that people who have never had pets don’t understand the joy and unconditional love they can bring. But I don’t understand why people we thought were close to us haven’t acknowledged our loss in any way. Some of them have — or had — pets at one time. A few did send cards or emails, and they were so appreciated. Their kindness will never be forgotten.

Mandy wasn’t sickly. She just stopped eating one day. When we took her to the vet a few days after trying everything we could think of, the diagnosis was kidney cancer. A couple of days later we had to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep.

My question is, am I expecting too much of people? After all, you wouldn’t ignore the death of a human child. I’m not only disappointed but resentful that these so-called friends and family don’t seem to care.

I suppose to some Mandy was “just a cat.” But to us, she was our beloved furry child and we are devastated. Please inform people that a kind word or short note would mean the world to people like us who are suffering real grief. — DEEPLY GRIEVING IN ILLINOIS

DEAR DEEPLY GRIEVING: Please let me offer my condolences for the loss of Mandy. I know from personal experience what you are going through, and it is very painful. That’s why I’m reminding readers that when they hear of someone losing a beloved pet, the kindest thing one can do is to offer sympathy with a phone call, an email or a card. Believe me, the effort will be appreciated and never forgotten.

A Good Goodbye