All dog lovers have to feel the pain of losing a dog sooner or later. It’s the price we pay for a lifetime of unconditional love and companionship. We all process our grief differently and at different speeds, but when it comes down to it, losing a dog is the same as losing a family member to us. Some people just don’t understand that, or they don’t care, or they’re trying to help but say the wrong things. When your dog passes away, you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty, belittled, or more hurt than you already are. Here are six horrible things people say to someone who lost a dog that should never be said to someone suffering such a huge loss.
1. It’s Just A Dog
No, it’s not just a dog. This is something people say when they’ve never known the love of a pup, and they’re worse off for it. If they could only imagine losing a best friend that they’ve had for a decade or two. In fact, dogs are more than friends. They are our family, our confidants, our therapists, and sometimes the only ones to show us love when we need it most. There is no such thing as “just a dog.” Not to us.
2. Do You Really Need To Take A Day Off Work?
Some of us are lucky enough to have employers that are understanding of our needs when a loved one passes away. It’s a devastating event, one that is sure to distract any dog owner from work. I know that I can’t possibly perform basic functions when I lose a dog, much less be at my best. It takes time to grieve, and I won’t be the most pleasant person to be around for a while. Everyone would be better off if I stayed home until I get through the worst of it. Without time to process, I will suffer, and so will my work.
3. You Could Have Done More
If a friend ever loses a dog, that is not the time for you to be a know-it-all. Under no circumstances should you say that they should have fed their dog healthier food, taken them on more walks, kept up with vet visits, or anything else that makes them feel guiltier than they already do. Keep your advice for those who ask for it. Using your powers of hindsight does no good for a dog that has already passed or for a person in mourning.
4. Would You Euthanize An Elderly Human?
This is one of those comments from people who like to feel morally superior by thinking in absolutes. They’ll never know the pain of having to make the decision that dogs can’t make for themselves, of carrying someone you love to their death while remembering the moment you first carried them home. Your feelings about assisted suicide are irrelevant here. When a dog is suffering, you have to be the strong one and to make a choice that inevitably fills you with guilt even though you know that you’re doing the right thing. Maybe it’s something you can only understand if you watch someone you love hurting every day without them understanding why. It’s not about your human grandma or grandpa.
5. You Need A New Puppy
Some people think they’re helping by offering suggestions on how to get you out of your depression after losing a dog. A new puppy might help some people feel better, but they need to make that decision on their own time. Some of us need a chance to grieve before moving on to the next thing, otherwise we feel like we’re trying to replace our old dog, and it’s not fair to our memories or to a new pup who has to have all these expectations unfairly thrust on them from the start.
6. Get Over It
The worst thing someone can say after any loss is, “Get over it.” Reaching a point where you can accept that your dog is gone and you’re ready to move on takes time. For some people, it can take a very long time, maybe years. It’s not a switch that you can flip and suddenly make everything okay. Part of your life has been removed, and a broken heart needs to heal. No one should be so callous as to suggest that another person isn’t working through pain fast enough. Anyone who tells you to get over it does not have your best interest at heart. They are simply tired of dealing with you, and they’re being selfish. Process your grief your way and on your own time. You don’t need someone who lacks empathy in your life right now.
What other horrible things have people said to you after you lost a dog? How would you react if someone said these things to you? Let us know in the comments below.