Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Do's and Do Not's of Talking Someone Who has Lost a Pet

I have been thinking about this blog post for a really long time.  In face, it is the first thing I have felt compelled to share in a really long time.

On October 3, 2014, we lost our 2.5 year old greyhound, Batman.  He was the light of my life (nothing against Marshmallow, I adore him, but he is a Daddy's boy) after losing three of my girls (Mary, Daisy and Fancy) in a 10 month span.

After Batman's death, while many people were understanding, I received numerous insensitive and hurtful comments.  I view my pets as part of my family, and while not everyone views animals this way, anyone who knows me, knows that this is how I feel; so some of the comments brought me to tears.

It has been awhile since Batman's death, and it has taken me a long time to process what has happened and to cope with my overwhelming grief at losing so many beloved pets in a relatively short period of time. 

After processing things, I came up with some Do's and Do Not's for others.  Hopefully this will help people who are attempting to talk to people they know who have lost fur-babies.

1)  Do not minimalize or trivialize my grief.  This is the one that hurt the most.  Especially when people would tell me that Batman was just a dog and that I needed to get over it.  He might have been just a dog to others, but he was my fur-baby and he was a big Mama's boy.

2)  Do not tell me I need to get another pet to replace the one I lost.  This is not helpful at all.  Batman was irreplaceable.  There will never be another dog like Batman, and that is part of what hurts so much.

3)  Do not tell me about the loss of your own pet.  This does not help me with my grief; in fact, it makes me feel worse.  I know you are just trying to say that you have been through the death of a pet, but everyone's experience is different.  Additionally, knowing you lost a pet as well, makes me even more sad.

4)  Do not try to distract me.  You will not succeed.  This also tells me that you do not understand how important my pet was to me because you think a piece of chocolate cake is enough to overcome the loss of my baby.

1)  Do let me talk about my grief and do listen to me.  All I wanted to do was talk about Batman and my memories of him.  It helped so much to think of the good times.

2)  Do ask me about my pet...not the actual death, but what my pet was alike when he/she was alive.  I love to tell people about all of Batman's quirks.  For example, Batman hated smooth floors, but loved to play with toys.  If we threw a toy on the tile, he would run to the toy and then gingerly back out every time (he would never risk turning around).  It was so cute!

3)  Do tell me your own good stories, memories, or pictures of my pet.  Oh, these helped so much and brought me so much joy, even in my grief.

4)  Do just give me a hug and let me know you are here for me.  The day after Batman died we had to tell some members of the greyhound group we volunteer with about his death.  To this day, I remember the hug Dona Ghadimi gave me.  It was so overwhelmingly supportive.

I hope this has helped someone.  It has been cathartic to talk about it.  I am ok now.  In January we adopted a beautiful greyhound we named Zadi.  She is a mama's girl and I adore her.  She has unknowingly helped to heal my heart.  (I tried to add some pictures, but blogger was taking too long to upload.)