One of the hardest parts of life is losing a beloved pet. The pain felt during this difficult time can be so devastating that many have said it is equally as painful to losing a person. After all, pets have become our family members. They provide unconditional love and support during some of life’s most difficult moments.
There is nothing like coming home after a very long and stressful day to the companionship of an animal. Sometimes all it takes is just their presence to take away life’s everyday stresses. So when the unbearable time comes when we must say goodbye to our companions, we often grieve to the same extent as when a person in our life passes away. We often turn to other pet lovers and owners who can understand our hurt and pain.
Over the past several years, sympathy cards have become more and more popular for pet loss. What better way to express our condolences to our loved ones during their difficult time than by sending a sympathy card. Sometimes a few thoughtful words can help the person grieving feel comforted. Unfortunately, I have been there a few times, and I can recall receiving a pet loss sympathy card. It has always helped me through those difficult times. All it takes is a few minutes to show someone how much you care, especially when they suffer the loss of their furry companion.
I have to say, people have gotten pretty creative with their holiday cards and messages over the years but how many people have gotten creative with who delivers those holiday messages? I always look forward to the variety of custom holiday cards I receive as the holidays approach, with one favorite in particular.
For over 10 years, I received a holiday card from Ben, one of my favorite creatures. You might be thinking “creature” is an odd word to describe a close friend or relative but Ben was my cousin’s dog and I always playfully referred to him as her first born, considering how much he was babied over the years. What can I say, I babied him too since I was the go-to person for dog-sitting Ben while I was in high school. We were all attached! Every year as I received holiday cards from friends and family, this unique holiday card would arrive with his info in the return address and a paw print signature. Enclosed in the holiday card would be a detailed newsletter describing the happenings of his favorite “pets” from the past year, my cousin Sheila and her husband Greg, and in later years his “kid pets,” Anna and Danny.
Now you and I both know that Ben was not writing the letters but it made his greeting cards stand out amongst the other holiday cards. This tradition was something the entire family looked forward to every year. Ben’s perspective had a spin to it that everyone enjoyed reading. However, 2007 was a very difficult year for my cousin’s family and the unpleasant and emotional decision of putting their 13-year-old adored pet to sleep had to be made. It is not easy putting your pet’s pain and suffering to an end knowing it is going to be the beginning of your own.
It was difficult for the couple who had spoiled a dog for the nine years of marriage prior to the arrival of their first child. The kids had taken over the focus of attention for four years but Ben was always a beloved member of the family and his loss was deeply felt. The house was quieter, free of the black dog hair and the endless trail of chew toys and stuffed animals. Everyone felt something was missing. The most trying moment came when it was time to send out that year’s holiday cards. Who was going to account the happenings of the family this Christmas? Ben was definitely missed.
One day when I got home from doing some Christmas shopping, I casually rifled through the day’s mail, which included some Christmas cards. I noticed a greeting card envelope with two small paw prints on the front. Curious, I opened the greeting card to see a great photo of our Ben and additional photos of my cousins’ family (the kids were cute too!) Enclosed was a newsletter similar to what I had received for all those years but with a slightly different perspective. This holiday card was from Jackson and Sawyer, two lab puppies (one chocolate, one black) being given to the “kid pets” on Christmas Day. The letter ended simply: “With love from Jackson and Sawyer, in loving memory of Gentle Ben 1994-2007.” I had a good cry after reading the letter. A new pet can never replace a pet that is no longer with you, but it can be a great way to honor their memory. Well, that and the tattoos but we’ll save that story for another day!
Dealing with the death of a loved one is a devastating life event. We often use sympathy cards to connect with people during these difficult times. I often feel that I should not approach someone in person as I do not want to make them cry as well. I cannot do it myself without breaking down into tears. How do you tell someone how sorry you are for their loss? Sometimes it is easier to express your feelings in personal sympathy cards.
It is equally devastating when a person loses their pet. Pets have become important members of many American families, providing enjoyment, companionship, and unconditional love for their owners. There are now all kinds of services for pets including health insurance, day care, “hotels” instead of kennels, and even greeting cards.
As my own children grew up and moved out on their own, I began to acquire cats. Actually, the cats somehow found me, probably knowing what a soft heart I have when it comes to four-legged, furry friends. Both of my children brought home a stray cat before leaving home, so my two cats eventually became the four I now have. Over the years, I have lost three cats and was devastated for a long time after each of them passed on. Princess, Callie, and most recently Baby are gone now, but the mere mention of their names still brings tears to my eyes.
If you know someone who has lost a pet, do not hesitate to express your condolences by sending sympathy cards. Their pet was a very precious part of their life. It was not “just a cat” or “just a dog” and they are never replaceable because each animal is a unique being. If you cannot find the right words to express yourself in person, send sympathy cards. There are greeting cards available specifically for pet loss, but you can certainly use traditional sympathy cards. Thoughtfully chosen sympathy cards or notecards with handwritten sentiments let the recipient know you are thinking of them. Their loss is real and they need to know that others do care.