The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have revealed that their dog, Lupo, has died, sharing an Instagram post paying tribute to their four-legged friend.
“Very sadly last weekend our dear dog, Lupo, passed away,” the caption read alongside a photo of the cocker spaniel. “He has been at the heart of our family for the past nine years and we will miss him so much.”
As anyone who’s suffered the loss of a beloved animal knows, it can be a devastating time. Comforting words from family and friends can make all the difference, so try to be supportive and not dismissive when you’re speaking to a grieving pet owner.
Here are seven things you shouldn’t say to someone who’s recently lost a pet.
1. It’s just an animal
Whether it’s a young child’s fluffy little guinea pig or the Labrador that’s kept grandma company for years, a pet can be a huge source of joy in someone’s life, and the resulting sadness when they die shouldn’t be underestimated.
It’s not fair to assume that just because it’s a furry friend that’s passed away, rather than a human, the suffering will be any less keenly felt. They don’t call dogs ‘man’s best friend’ for no reason.
Read: Research suggests its pets before partners
2. You can buy another one
While some owners may choose to adopt another animal after theirs has died, not everyone will want to immediately ‘replace’ their precious pooch or cherished cat. Be mindful that even if they do decide to get another pet, it won’t erase the pain they’re feeling.
3. It was going to happen eventually
In most cases, humans will outlive their pets, but that doesn’t mean the loss is any easier. It’s really not helpful to point out that ‘this day was always going to come’, especially to a dog mum or dad who has had their canine companion for a long time.
4. At least your house won’t smell anymore
You wouldn’t tell someone who has just lost their husband or wife, ‘Well, at least you don’t have to put up with their snoring anymore,’ so why focus on what you perceive as the downsides of having a pet?
Your friend might actually miss the smell of their Labradoodle after they’d been out in the rain.
Read: How to avoid huge vet bills and keep your pets healthy
5. I don’t know how you put up with it for so long
Just because you hate cats/dogs/gerbils/parrots and couldn’t bear to live with one, doesn’t mean others won’t feel the loss of a pet acutely. Exclaiming, ‘I don’t know how you put up with it for so long!’ doesn’t distract from the grief or offer perspective, it’s unempathetic and unhelpful.
6. They had been on their last legs for ages
Other variations on this theme include, ‘They had a good innings,’ and, ‘It’s for the best’. Whatever the circumstances of an animal’s death, from illness to natural causes, the loss can still be overwhelming.
Read: Pets that live the longest, so you can minimise sad farewells
7. You’ll soon feel better
There’s no timetable for recovery after the death of an animal, especially when they’ve been part of the family for many years. It’s important to let people grieve at their own pace.
Do you have a pet? Let us know in the comments section below.
– With PA