Thanks to jans canon for use of the image.

When we are in the midst of grief over the loss of a loved pet, words of comfort from friends really do help. They recognize our loss and reassure us that time will help us heal. And especially when the loss is recent, friends help us to focus on the good memories we will always have of our cherished pet. So it’s important to say something when you learn that a friend has lost a pet. If you’re not comfortable talking in person, consider an email, or a brief personal note to express your feelings. It’s hard to start with a blank page, so here are a few samples to help get you started.

  • We were so sad to learn about the loss of your dog.  We remember how he used to love to play with our dog at the dog park, and we wanted to let you know that we are thinking of you at this sad time.
  • We know the decision to put (name of pet) to sleep must have been a devastating one. It feels better to know that his suffering is over, and to know that the memories you have of him will keep you company forever.
  • We know how difficult is must have been to have made the courageous decision to ease (name of cat)’s suffering.  We know she was your constant companion and an excellent mouser.  We will miss her regular visits to our porch.  Please stop by soon for a glass of iced tea and we can share memories of her together.
  • We are thinking of you in your time of loss. We know how much (name of pet) meant to you. She was there at your side through thick and thin for many years, we can appreciate the sadness you must feel. May peace be with you knowing (name of pet) was so loved.
  • I was shocked to see your post on Facebook about (name of pet)’s tragic accident. You must be numb with grief.  Words seem inadequate to express words of comfort right now, but please know that I care and am here if you want to talk. I am free this weekend and would love to see you.
  • I was so sorry to see the Twitter post about (name of pet)’s passing. You were so close to (name of pet), it was almost as if you could read each other’s mind. You used to say (name of pet) always knew 20 minutes ahead of your arrival that you were on your way home.  May happy memories of your time with (name of pet) bring you comfort during these difficult days.
  • My heart breaks for you. I learned that your adorable kitten (name of pet) died yesterday and I wanted to reach out to you. Your children must be inconsolable at the loss. In comforting them, it is my hope that you will find comfort too – remembering the special moments that you each shared with her, and the love you brought to each other.
  • Thank you for letting me know about (name of pet). I am so sorry he has died and can only imagine how lonely you must feel without him; your best buddy, your running partner, your clothing critic and your best listener. Nothing will take away the ache you feel, but please know that I care and I am thinking of you.  If there is anything at all I can do to help during these next few difficult weeks – please let me know.

Found the poem below in our inbox and though we’d share (with permission from the author, who wishes to remain anonymous). Do you have a poem on pet loss (or any loss) to recommend? Let us know in the comments.

A pet is love “on loan”.
And when the note comes due
You pay with tears
For all the years
Of love he gave to you.

Love someone else around you,
Your pet has shown you how.
Remember him with gladness,
Your debt is settled now.

OpetuariesThe core of is an idea that we don’t really talk about much, but which serves as the basis for everything we do. What we do is offer a way to create meaningful memorials. But why do human beings create memorials at all? To help us through our suffering. Suffering is bad, right? Or is it? When I talked with psychiatrist Camille Greenwald for an article on coping with pet loss, she mentioned that we live in a culture that doesn’t really approve of us feeling anything but happy. Think about that for a minute. If you’re not happy all the time, does that mean something’s wrong with you? Of course not. When we lose a loved one, no one expects us to be happy. Suffering is natural.

Suffering is feeling, a state of being. That sounds passive, but we know suffering can affect us, change us. It can be very powerful, even debilitating. We all know this, right? But that seemingly obvious idea brings to life everything we do at Opetuaries.

Suffering can create change, but can it create positive change? It can incapacitate, but can it inspire? Can it enable? The idea behind Opetuaries is that it can. We can take the energy generated by the painful experience of loss and use it to help others. By sharing a loved animal’s memorial and asking friends and family to donate in the animal’s memory, the grief transforms into food for puppies rescued from a puppy mill by the Humane Society of Iredell; the pain becomes medicine for a horse at Equine Voices. The hurt — which originated in the love of a lost companion — becomes love again.

When the nature or state of something changes, we can say it transmutes. Alchemists tried to transmute lead into gold. Our highest goal at Opetuaries is to transmute suffering. The odd thing is that we can’t actually change a bit on our own, we can only provide the means for others to do it, but playing our role in that transformation is the ongoing inspiration for everything we do.

We were recently asked to do a guest post for Pets Best Insurance on coping with the loss of a pet. You can find the article at If you’re going through this difficult process, I hope there are some things that might help you along the way.

Thanks to Hadley and everyone at Pets Best for having us post.