Death of a Pet: What to Write When Someone Loses a Pet


More people are beginning to accept the loss of a dog, cat, or other loved and cherished pet as a grief-filled experience. The increasing popularity of pet cemeteries attests to this fact. The arrangements may be new, but the sentiments are not.

Whether in-person, over a text, or in a letter, when a friend loses a pet they will appreciate the acknowledgment of their loss of a dear companion.

Of course, not everyone, especially those who have never shared their home with a pet, will understand the sadness of saying goodbye to a companion animal, but the sadness is there nonetheless.

“You smiled with your eyes, laughed with your tail, and loved with your whole heart”

Why to Write When Someone Loses a Pet

When someone we love – such as a beloved pet – dies, the loss often causes grief and intense sorrow. Remember that. Encourage your friend to physically showing their grief, to actively mourn the death of their beloved pet. This active mourning will move them on a journey toward reconciling with the loss of their pet.

Our companion animals are our family. Bereavement following the loss of a pet may seem inappropriate to some, but it is no light matter to thousands of animal lovers who know the joy of sharing life with their pet.

Having a companion animal is a wonderful opportunity to flow love. When a pet dies, a part of us dies with them.

What to Write When a Friend’s Pet Dies

Below are some example letters of comfort, and some shorter one-liner condolence notes, that will help you create the perfect message to honour the life of a beloved pet.

Short condolence messages on the loss of a pet

  • [Pet’s name] left paw prints of love on everyone who knew [him/her].
  • I know you miss [pet’s name] terribly. I’m thinking about you and sending thoughts and prayers. Don’t hesitate to call me if you’d like to talk.
  • A devoted friend and beloved pet such as [pet’s name] will always hold a special place in your heart. [He/she] may be out of sight, but always in your heart of hearts.
  • Although others may not understand your grief, I do. Losing a pet such as [pet’s name] can leave a hole in your heart and a void in your life. Know that I am thinking of you and offer my condolences. Call me if you want to talk or just want a shoulder to cry on.
  • We can never keep them long enough! You are in our thoughts and prayers.
  • I was sorry to hear of your loss. I hope the pain in your heart will eventually eased by the beautiful memories you have of [pet’s name].
  • [pet’s name] will be missed by the entire neighbourhood. My condolences are with you and your family at this sad time.
  • [Pet’s name] was such a great [dog/cat/rabbit/etc.]. [He/she] was lucky to have chosen you as [his/her] family.
  • I have fond memories of [pet’s name] greeting every new face as a new friend; I could learn a lot from [him/her]. My heart is with you at this sad time. Let me know when you feel like getting together to go for a walk ‘n’ talk.
  • I was sorry to hear of the loss of your sweet kitty; you are in our prayers. “When the cat you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”  

If you live in a city or near an extensive greeting card store, you might be able to find a pet sympathy card, and add your short message of support. If no such card is to be found, a blank card or one with a landscape view or image depicting something or someplace related to your friend’s dog or animal that has passed, would be appropriate.

You may have left my life, but you will never leave my heart.

Write a short tribute [quote ideas]

Consider writing a short tribute in celebration of the animal’s life and acknowledge how much he or she meant to your friend. You could also encourage your friend to begin the grieving processes by writing a short tribute or journal entry in honour of their beloved dog (or companion).

Some phrases to inspire:

  • “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” — M.K. Clinton
  • Dogs are rightly called man’s best friend. The love and companionship of a faithful, devoted dog is unlike any other relationship in the world; it’s a special privilege to have known and loved this particular dog.
  • “Dogs and angels are not very far apart.” — Charles Bukowski
  • Cats are dear friends, especially if they choose you. They tend to maintain their independence, but deep down we know it is just an act. There is nothing so cozy as snuggling up on the sofa with a soft pillow, a warm blanket, and a purring kitten.
  • “If you accept that pets can love us as much as we do them, then the logic is clear and cannot be denied. If you believe that there is a heaven for people, then they must be there, waiting for us, when we cross over. Heaven is love, and pets always share that with us.” Wallace Sife, Pet Bereavement Expert
  • “There are spiritual guardians at all the transitional places in our mysterious multidimensional Universes. The precious sacred souls of animals are created to beautifully traverse these regions when their bodies are no more upon the Earth.” — Elizabeth Eiler
  • “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” – Charles Dickens
  • “No one can truly understand the bond we form with the cats we love until they experience the loss of one.”
  • “The memories and paw print of a beloved cat remains in our heart and soul forever.”
  • “Sometimes we aren’t meant to get over someone, and we go on living a little bit emptier.”
  • “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” — Josh Billings, American Comedian
  • “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.” — Milan Kundera, Czech Writer
  • “Dogs don’t make judgments about physical appearance or abilities, and they don’t care how big your house is or what you do for a living. They care about the quality of your character and your capacity to love.” — Elizabeth Eiler
  • “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France
  • “You cannot share your life with a dog…or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities and minds and feelings.” — Jane Goodall
  • “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.” — Amy Sedaris

Dog sympathy card example: what to say in a card when a pet dies

Dear Kelly,

I want to tell you how sorry I was to hear of the death of your wonderful companion, Chipper. He was a great friend and you were some pair of playmates for each other. But more than that, Chipper had a beautiful soul, a warm heart, and a caring quality that made him a very special dog.

It’s a hard blow for you and at this sad time I want you to know that you have my sincere sympathy.
Love,
Joanie

Cat sympathy card example

Dear Rushmores,

We want to express our sympathy upon the death of your sweet cat today. After speaking with Mark it was apparent that the decision to ease her final days wasn’t easy.

Jane and I know that your family pet was deeply loved for many years. Cats are such independent creatures; we never quite know if they are going to let us into their world. But when they do, they allow us to love them unconditionally, and the loss of a loved one is always painful.

We hope you will give yourselves permission to feel the grief.

Thinking of you.

Sincerely,
Suzanne and Jill

Famous Pet Sympathy Letters: The Death of A Dog

Animals are protectors and fast friends to the young, valued family members and cheering companions to the elderly. They are confidants to singles, they soothe prison inmates, and they gladden the lives of many who are institutionalized.

Long before the prevalence of today’s pet cemeteries, Queen Victoria of Great Britain dedicated a special resting place for the pets of military men serving at Edinburgh Castle. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose to be buried next to his beloved dog Fala at their home in Hyde Park, New York.

Small dogs, a long succession of them, were the joy and solace of Edith Wharton’s life. Their loss afflicted her hardly less than that of much loved humans, and she was sure that other dog lovers felt the same. Here she condoles with Charles Eliot Norton…upon the death of his dog Taffy.

June 30 [1908]

Dear Mr. Norton,

When Teddy and I heard yesterday from Lily (Norton’s daughter Elizabeth) of Taffy’s sad taking-off we both really felt a personal regret in addition to our profound sympathy for his master.

His artless but engaging ways, his candid enjoyment of his dinner, his judicious habit of exercising by means of those daily rushes up and down the road, had for so many years interested and attracted us that he occupies a very special place in our crowded dog-memories.

As for your feelings, I can picture them with intensity, since to do so I have only to relive my poor Jules’ last hours and farewell looks, about a year ago!

Somebody says “L’espoir est le plus fidele des amants” (“Hope is the most faithful of lovers”)—but I really think it should be put in the plural and applied to dogs. Staunch and faithful little lovers that they are, they give back a hundred fold every sign of love one ever gives them—and it mitigates the pang of losing them to know how very happy a little affection has made them.

From The Letters of Edith Wharton, edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis (Scribner’s, 1989)

The Rainbow Bridge Poem

The Rainbow Bridge is perhaps the most well-known and frequently referenced poem about the loss of a pet. Get your tissues ready:

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. 

It is called Rainbow Bridge because of its many splendid colours. 

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

[Author unknown]

Prayers for all Animals

If your pet or any animal you find is ill or recovering, why not say a little prayer to send love its way?

Prayers of St. Francis of Assisi, for Our Animal Companions

Good St. Francis, you loved all of God’s creatures. To you, they were your brothers and sisters. Help us to follow your example of treating every living thing with kindness. St. Francis, Patron Saint of animals, watch over my pet and keep my companion safe and healthy. Amen.

Prayer of St. Francis for Sick Animals

Heavenly Father, you created all things for your glory and made us stewards of this creature. If it is your will, restore it to health and strength. Blessed are you, Lord God, and holy is your name forever and ever. Amen

Prayer of St. Francis for Our Animal Friends

Heavenly Father, our human ties with our friends of other species is a wonderful and special gift from You. We now ask You to grant our special animal companions your Fatherly care and healing power to take away any suffering they have. Give us, their human friends, new understanding of our responsibilities to these creatures of Yours. They have trust in us as we have in You; our souls and theirs are on this earth together to give one another friendship, affection and caring. Take our heartfelt prayers and fill Your ill or suffering animals with healing Light and strength to overcome whatever weakness of body they have.

Your goodness is turned upon every living thing and Your grace flows to all Your creatures. From our souls to their goodness flows, touching each of us with the reflection of Your love. Grant to our special animal companions long and healthy lives. Give them good relationships with us, and if You see fit to take them from us, help us to understand that they are not gone from us, but only drawing closer to You. Grant our prayer through the intercession of good St. Francis of Assisi, who honored You through all Your creatures. Give him the power to watch over our animal friends until they are safe with You in eternity, where we someday hope to join them in giving You honor forever. Amen.

Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures.

On the fifth and sixth days of creation,

you called forth fish in the sea,

birds in the air, and animals on the land.

You inspired St. Francis to call all animals

his brothers and sisters.

We ask you to bless this animal.

By the power of your love,

enable it to live according to your plan.

May we always praise you

for all your beauty in creation.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.

More articles about pets? Thank-you notes for the people who take care of your pets while you’re away.

Billie

I like to climb mountains, read Nietzsche, and explore the West Coast. I have a BA from York University and yet on this site I sometimes spell like an American (know your audience). Thank you. Thank you very much.

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