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I've only had this happen twice, but this morning my mom will be going to the vet to have my brother's pet rabbit put to death, because it is ill. For me, a pet is just a pet, and nothing more. It is something that can be replaced, unlike e.g. grandparents. Therefore, I am usually at a loss what to say to people who have lost their pet (are going to lose it, like my brother) and are really sad about it. I can understand that some people form emotional attachments to their pets, but since I have never experienced such a thing, I am usually at a loss for words when people tell me they are down because they lost their pet.

Things like 'my condolences' seem too much. But just saying 'Oh, I'm sorry you that it makes you feel this bad' sounds like too little to me. Are there any nice responses to the announcement that people have lost a pet or are going to lose one?

Note: Since some people are interested in an age aspect, let's just forget about the old, lonely people for a while. I am looking for something I can use for little brothers and friends, so anywhere between 14-35 years old.

  • 4
    While this is a very good general question, it is one of those where an age context would be useful. While a personal loss is still a source of grief, it it context that makes it a difference: An elderly person losing a pet that is their only companion, versus a goldfish which was acquired a week ago, etc. – r m Aug 30 '17 at 8:02
  • Can you handle being a bit 'dramatic' or you need 'cold response' that makes you appropriately sad? – Vylix Aug 30 '17 at 8:56
  • @Vylix Depends on the person I would guess, if the person is known to be prone to a little drama themselves, I wouldn't mind acting a little dramatic. I can handle acting. If I know the person as someone who is not prone to drama, a cold, appropriate response would be better in my opinion. I'm just at a loss trying to figure out what is 'appropriate'. – Tinkeringbell Aug 30 '17 at 9:20
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There are a couple of things you can say like

Your pet was lucky to have you.

This is how you can remind them that how great they were at taking care of their pet. This might help them get over the grief. (Source)

You can also try saying that their pet had a great life because of them. For this, you can remind them some great events they had with their pet. Though it's not compulsory, you can try it. There is only one setback of this. Some people might, but not every time, mourn over this too much after you remind these events.

Once my neighbor lost his pet and I tried reminding how much fun he had and how great he was at taking care of their pet. This helped and he said thank you.

If someone lost their pet due to some illness, they might be feeling the guilt of not taking the pet to a vet on time. In this case, you can say,

You did everything you could do.

You can check this and this for some great tips as well.

  • Another good stock phrase is "you gave him a good life." – arp Jan 29 '18 at 12:00
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You can say

"I'm sorry for your loss."

You do not fake any feelings you don't have. You don't have to feel sorry for the pet passing away, if you just don't.

But the fact that you feel the need to say something to the owner of the pet, indicates that you feel sorry for what the owner is experiencing — the loss of their pet, and their grief. So that is exactly what you say to them, you feel sorry for their loss.

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I use some variation of:

That sucks. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

(Naturally, tailor it to how the person will receive such a statement. I've used "stinks" instead of sucks, because "sucks" doesn't always go over well. Use judgement here.)

I use it when any sort of death happens, any sort of relationship ends, or any sort of illness befalls a person.

Different people react different ways to grief.

Some like to be surrounded by others, some desire space.

Some people are comforted by a tale of how your own cat or relative died. Some people hate to hear such a story when they are beset by grief.

Unless I know the person well enough to know how they grieve, I find it best to leave it neutral, with a recognition that a bad thing happened, and an open offer of help in the control of the bereaved.

0

Depending on how they tell you the news or how they feeling look like.

Oh no... (concerned expression)

Followed by an inquiry about how it died.

How that happened?

And commiseration or/and consolation

I'm so sorry to hear that

At least he won't suffer now

Your pet was lucky to have you (from AJ's answer)

And checking on the person (can be a priority if they seem to be very sad about this)

Are you alright?
Can I help you with anything?

The key is to acknowledge the bond between them, commiserate with the person, and make sure that the person can move forward.

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