I recently read an article by Frank McAndrew that states how much more difficult it is to lose a beloved dog then it is to lose a beloved person. The author speaks about the loss of his dog, Murphy. He makes this claim because while there are certain protocols and practices attached to the death of a person, non are in place for an animal.
I am fortunate that my beloved Maggie is still here with me but I can understand what the author is saying, as I have lost a dog when I was a young.
Recently a friend of mine went through the process of grieving for the loss of her beloved dog that was more like a daughter then a pet. While I tried to be there and lend support to her I also witnessed some unfortunate comments made to her. While sometimes we do not know what to say to a grieving person it is best to say “I am sorry” or “how are you doing today?” But if there is ever a time when you are unsure of what to say then it is best to remain quiet.
While visiting Bryn Mawr College last week I met a student that was happy to sit with Maggie. I could tell she was a ‘dog person’ by the way she was petting and talking with Maggie. When I asked her if she had a pet at home she first said yes, but then changed her answer to “I had.” I didn’t press her but she looked at me and opened up. Her family was living in Taiwan at the time and while she was away at school her dog was swept away in one of their bad storms.
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
She added that her family didn’t tell her right away because they wanted her to do well in school. One of her friends sitting with her said “you never told me that, you just said that your dog’s name was Jack.
The conversation continued for a bit but then petered out as the friends enjoyed just sitting with Maggie.
Losing a sidekick is never easy. Some choose to replace them immediately and while others need time to grieve. Whatever the decision as friends we need to show our support.