What do you say to a client who has recently lost their beloved pet? Certainly, the death of a pet is heartbreaking. As such, recognising how you can best offer support can be helpful in these situations.
Most pet owners see their dog or cat as part of the family. It’s not just their pet; it’s their meowing mate or barking buddy. Consequently, the death of a pet can cause great upset and tremendous grief. So, it’s really important to be able to empathise. It’s also super important to know the right and the wrong things to say to a client following the death of a pet. Here are a few tips on how you can support your clients, without putting your foot in it!
What to say and do following the death of a pet
Indeed, if you’re a dog walker or pet sitter perhaps you too are feeling sad at the loss of a pet. Hence, it’s important to acknowledge your own grief, as well as to console your client. If you have difficulty finding the right words, remember that simply listening can be very helpful to an owner following the death of a pet.
Keep it simple
Simple phrases such as, “I’m so sorry to hear about Fido”, “I’m sorry for your loss” or “Please accept my condolences” show support and empathy.
Recall a fond memory
If your client seems okay about talking about their pet why not recall a nice or funny memory you have. This will help lighten the mood and remind your client about all the happy times he or she had with their fur pal.
Remind your client what a great life their pet had
Aside from recalling happy memories, maybe you can remind your client about all the great things they did to ensure Fido had an awesome life.
Ask questions…with care
Following the death of a pet, it can be useful for owners to share their feelings or voice any concerns they might have. You may wish to encourage your client to talk by asking a few questions. Of course, not everyone feels comfortable talking about a deceased pet, so tread carefully and read your client.
Show you care
Depending on your relationship with your client, a hug, a pat on the shoulder or a squeeze of the hand or arm might be just what they need to know you care.
Help celebrate the pet’s life
It may be appropriate to discuss ways in which your client can memorialise their pet. Discussing the options available may help them to work through their emotions and offer some positivity. Be mindful that you need to choose the right time to do this. Immediately after the death of a pet may be too soon.
Offer useful information
Some pet owners may find it difficult to cope after the loss of their pet. They may not know what to do, particularly if their pet has died at home or has been involved in an accident. You may be able to help by making arrangements or providing useful information and advice.
Keep in touch
Following the death of a pet you may have no need to visit your client. However, it’s a really nice gesture to keep in touch. Take the time to visit or call to ask how they are doing. Let them know you’re thinking of them and happy to offer support if they need it.
What NOT to say to clients who have lost a pet
Sure, there are many positive things you can say and do to help a client after the death of a pet. There are also many things you should not say and do. Here are a few things you really shouldn’t say.
Well, it’s probably for the best
Even if the pet was ill, I’m sure your client would much rather that their beloved fur pal was still alive. Claiming it’s for the best can sound callous.
Got any plans to get another cat/dog?
Again, this question can come across as insensitive or uncaring. It may give the impression you’re only thinking about your income.
Oh, remember that time Fido did something bad
Recalling a negative memory is really not useful for a grieving pet owner. Keep all memories fond and if you can’t think of anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.
You’ll feel better in a couple of months
Maybe they won’t feel better. Perhaps they’ll still feel really sad — and that’s okay. It’s important to encourage people to work through their emotions, not hide them away. And, whatever happens, please don’t say, “time heals all wounds” or “life goes on”. Not helpful!
Sure, it can be difficult to know how to help a client after the death of a pet. The more times you experience it, it’s likely the better you’ll become at knowing what to say and do.
One important action is to ask your client what, if anything, you can do to help and support them. The question alone shows you care and are there to assist them through this sad time.
Have you supported a client after the loss of their pet?
Helping pet owners say goodbye
Coping with the loss of a pet