Why I feel we should try not to say this sentence…
One of my very close friends is going through the loss of not one, but two of her cats. She is devastated. She is panicked. She has to make “that” decision. Again. For the second time in three months.
And the one thing people say to her almost constantly is this:
“Will you get another one?”
Or some version of that.
It’s the universal sentence people seem to say when confronted with someone’s grief over a dying pet. As I’ve witnessed my friend dealing with this comment over and over again, I have come to the conclusion that it is said because…
1. People don’t know what to say. It is the first thing that pops into their head.
It’s not malicious. We simply and sadly do not know how to deal with other’s grief.
2. It’s a practical response.
Some people have gone through the death of a pet and are trying to convey comfort – to convey to the grieving person that they will heal eventually and that another pet is not a replacement but just part of life.
As Louis CK said – getting a pet is a “countdown to sorrow”.
And that is so true. We all know when we get a pet, it is highly likely we will outlive them. And we hope we will outlive them. Because who else would take better care of our beloved pets then us anyway?
3. To the rescue minded person, it is a given. It’s an expression of hopefulness. Of course you will get another cat, they think. It’s your duty and a privilege and a wonderful opportunity to save another life.
But still, to to person losing their beloved cat, “will you get another one” is cruel – as if one is negating the life and personality and how much the pet meant and was loved.
To the person losing their pet, “will you get another one” sounds as if you are pooh poohing their grief. As if you are saying their grief is silly or unwarranted.
So, I’ve been thinking … maybe … we should all try really hard to stop this one sentence before it comes flying out of our mouths. Even though we mean well and are so sad that our friend is suffering so much.
Maybe … we only need to say something simple… something that humans have been saying for a long long long time… something that encompasses … everything … our sadness that our friend is hurting, our recognition of her beloved pet, our belief that she will get through this, and our love.
And it is not difficult.
Take a moment. Take a breath. And say…
“I am so sorry for your loss.”
RIP Spike and Dory.
xo and meow and squeak,
cynthia + marcy + penelope kitten