When someone you love is experiencing grief
If a friend or family member is hurting, it can be difficult to find the “right” things to say or do. Washington State University has a great resource on supporting others who are grieving.
Things to do:
- Actively listen to them in a nonjudgmental way. They may need a shoulder to cry on, or to talk about what they’re going through. Maybe they’re not ready to talk and just need a friend to sit in silence with them.
- Ask how they’re doing, let them know you’re there if they need anything.
- Be a quiet presence; a shoulder to cry on.
- Show gentle concern for their wellbeing.
- Share some happy memories you may have of their pet, but avoid talking about your own pets or experience with loss (unless they ask).
- Help them celebrate the pet’s life by reminiscing with photographs.
Things NOT to do:
- Don’t minimize their experience by comparing it to others.
- Don’t try to give advice (unless they ask for it) or tell them it will get better soon – they don’t need you to “fix” it, they just need you to be there.
- Don’t judge their feelings or how they’re processing the loss. There’s no wrong way to grieve.
- Never say things like “it’s just a pet” or “you can just get another one.”
*If they express anything potentially dangerous, like self-harm, definitely say something to them, or to their other friends or family.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
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