The last post introduced ways to express sympathy to those who have lost a pet. Here are additional recommendations.

1. Make a donation—A donation can be made in memory of the caregiver’s cat. The donation can be to an animal shelter or an animal-related organization that you know the caregiver supports. A favorite cat book can be donated to a local library or a school. You can donate time, towels, or bedding to a local shelter or donate money for a veterinarian scholarship or feline research.

2. Encourage the caregiver to stay home—Companies do not provide pet bereavement leave, but many companies do offer a couple of personal days annually. The loss of a pet can be a legitimate reason to use a day or two to begin coping. If you are a supervisor and have an employee that loses a cat, consider suggesting the employee take the day off. If this is not possible due to company policy or the employee’s desire, you can still be understanding and not expect full productivity.

3. Frame a photo—If you have a picture of the caregiver’s cat, a kind gesture is to get a copy made and place it in a special frame. My brother did this after one of my cats passed away, and I so appreciated his gift. He had walked around my house with camera in hand during a two-week vacation one year and had taken some fabulous shots that I did not even know about. You can never have too many pictures of your pets—especially when they are gone.

4. Offer to do something specific—If you say, “call me if you need something,” chances are you won’t hear anything. However, if you offer to pick up the kids, walk the dog, order takeout food, or dig a grave, your helping hand may be appreciated and accepted. Just hours before my beloved Katarina passed away, a dear colleague called me and offered to pray for us over the phone. A couple hours after she passed away in my arms, another colleague appeared on my doorstep with hot chocolate and a stack of buttermilk pancakes. The hot chocolate and three bites of pancake got me through an excruciating evening. The pancakes were microwaved several times the next day and that is all I remember eating for two days. Later, still another friend volunteered to take Katarina to the veterinarian’s office the next morning for cremation. I accepted these kind offers, but probably would have never asked for them myself. Katarina and I were truly blessed to have had these three compassionate souls helping us in the final hours.

5. Sit and listen—You may not understand what the caregiver is going through. You may not even understand how anyone could be so upset about a cat. But you can still be present. You can sit quietly, listen to stories, and even encourage the stories by saying tell me about the time. There is no need to worry what to say. In truth, there are probably very few words that can be spoken that will really help. But your mere presence and love will make all the difference and will never be forgotten.

If you keep just one of these considerations in mind, your grieving friend will be eternally grateful for your gesture of comfort and support.

What expressions of condolence have touched you after the loss of a pet?

Bountiful Blessings!

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