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How to Offer Comfort to a Grieving Owner

Puppy love sillouhetteThey were caretakers to a four legged furball for several years, suddenly their charge is gone. Whether the death was sudden or prolonged, there is no way to prepare for the emptiness that an owner feels after their dog moves on. Friends and family members feel helpless through the course of grieving. At times tripping over themselves, saying and doing the wrong things. Listed below are ways to comfort without pushing.

Memories

Keep the memories alive, talk about the good times and the positive attributes of the dog.  Don’t shy away from the mention of the departed dog. Let the owner talk and grieve. Sometimes a shoulder to cry on is the best form of therapy and all a person needs to process their feelings. If the owner asks for space, give it to them. Let them know there is a shoulder available if they need it.

Tribute

A memorial tribute would be a wonderful gift to any grieving owner. Whether it is in the form of a photo album or a power point presentation, a memorial tribute is something that the owner can take out and look through when they are feeling particularly sad. Several dog web sites and animal shelters offer memorial t-shirts that can be personalized with the dogs name and worn with pride.

Gathering

Gather together a group of family and friends from work, church, community to offer the loved one support in their misery. Getting a group of people together, people who have gone through the process of moving on, can help the owner move on. If the owner would rather keep their grief private, there is a pet loss hotline available. The hotline is run by licensed therapists and completely anonymous.

Children

Explaining death to a child is a slippery slope. There are always more questions and new emotions that crop up. Kids need to grieve in their own way. Whether they cry or need their questions answered to their satisfaction, let them dictate how they want to deal with the loss of their dog. There is no wrong way to grieve where a child is concerned.

New Dog?

Often people think bringing a new dog into a house of sadness will alleviate some of the grief. Sadly this sweet, harmless gesture adds more tension to an already stressful household. The puppy will feel the sadness and anxiety. Wounds are still fresh; owners may begin to resent the puppy for not being the dog that was recently lost. New dogs need a routine established very early on. A grieving household may find obedience training far down on their list of wants. Wait until the owner is ready for a new dog. Shelters are full of dogs needing love from people who are ready to open their hearts.

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Written by Renee Moen
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