Is It Really Appropriate to Send a Sympathy Card for the Loss of a Pet?

Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette,

My friend recently had a pet pass away. She is very distraught about it, and I’m wondering if it is appropriate to send a card to her. I mean, it is not like a person died: it was just a dog.

-Jane S. in Idaho

Ah, Jane, what you fail to realize is that most people who adopt animals into their lives think of those animals as members of the family. To you it might just be a “dog”, but to your friend, she thought of her dog as a faithful, loving companion, or perhaps even a 4-legged child. If she is distraught, it is clear her dog brought her joy, so she will mourn it just like the loss of a human relative.

The most important thing you can do right now is to acknowledge her pain, and let her know you will be there to help her through this tough time. A sympathy card or a thinking of you card is very appropriate thing right now. Offer to take her out for a coffee or just tell her if she needs a friend to talk to, that you’ll be there. Don’t say anything like ‘You can get another dog,’ because that is stating that her dog was unimportant and ‘replaceable anyway’. Not everyone is able to adopt again right away. Something along the lines of ‘I’m sorry for your loss, and I’ll be there for you’ is really all you need to say. As always, with sympathy cards, it is important to offer support, not advice.

Good Luck, Jane.