Recently a few DinkyDogClub team members went to see Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. Sheryl was in town talk about a new book she co-authored: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.
Sitting on stage with Michele Norris, formerly of NPR, Sheryl spoke about dealing with the death of a loved one. It was a fascinating talk. Being immersed in the world of small dogs, including our Meetup groups and Facebook community, I thought a lot of what Sheryl said would apply to those who've lost a pet.
I'd like to share some of what Sheryl spoke about in the hope that someday it may help you or someone you know to ease the pain of a losing a pet.
When a dog crosses the rainbow bridge, some people can't bear the thought of welcoming a new dog into their lives. Others, not wanting to be without a four-legged friend, bring home a new dog as soon as they can find a suitable companion. As a family member or friend of someone who lost a dog, it's important to not say things like, "Just go get another dog," or, "You've already replaced Fido?" There is no proper way to grieve. Each individual has his or her own way of getting through the loss of a beloved pet. It's important to respect that.
Most people are at a loss as to what to say to someone who lost their pet. Sometimes it's easier to talk about the weather, a house for sale in the neighborhood or not say anything at all, especially if the loss was unexpected. After all, you don't want to remind someone of their loss, right? Pets are part of our daily routine. Losing a pet stays with you for a long, long time. By acknowledging the loss of a little dog, you're not reminding people of their loss, you're showing you care about them.
When someone in your life loses a pet, you may be tempted to say something like, "Is there anything I can do?" According to research done by Sheryl and co-author Adam Grant, when you ask if there's something you can do, you put the burden on the person grieving. A better approach is to is to offer something like a hug, a note to let them know you're thinking about them or dropping by with a cup of their favorite coffee. A simple act of kindness can do a lot to help ease the pain that comes with loss.
We would love to hear how you have dealt with or helped someone else cope with the loss of a dog. Please share in the comments below.