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There is nothing that a pet bunny owner dreads more than their pet bunny dying. If there is something we can do to extend the lives of our bunny so they can live by our sides until we’re old and gray, we would have happily done it.
Sadly, the reality of pet ownership is that we will almost always outlive our pet rabbits.
I’m part of a family and a community of rabbit lovers and so I’ve had my fair share of experiences getting over the death of a pet rabbit.
In this article, I will give you 11 tips to help you comfort someone who has lost their bunny and 7 behaviors that you should avoid when talking to someone who is grieving the death of a pet rabbit.
I want to be clear that I am not an expert in coping with pet grieving. These tips come from my own personal experience and from a poll of rabbit friends. P.S. If you want help from an actual pet grief expert, I strongly suggest you visit Robin Jean Brown’s guide.
We all grieve in our own way and at different intensities.
Thus, I write this article more as a guide to help friends and family navigate the stormy waters of grief.
11 Tips On Comforting Someone Who Has Lost A Pet Rabbit
The best way to comfort someone who is grieving a dead pet rabbit is to be empathic and read what they need at this moment. Try to put yourself in the other’s shoes and try to see the world through their eyes. This is empathy and compassion in practice
There are more than ten ways to comfort someone who has lost a pet rabbit. But in this article, I’ll give you ten of the best ways to comfort someone whose bunny has died.
1. Be There
We all know that feeling: someone has lost a very beloved pet and you feel stupid because all you can ask is “Are you okay?”. Of course, they’re not okay, they just lost a member of their family!
Do not beat yourself up too much, asking someone if they’re okay is not a stupid question. Instead, it’s an invitation for them to open up about their feelings, which can go a long way towards acknowledging their grief and healing.
Besides, asking them if they’re okay tells them that you are concerned for them. You should also let them know they can talk to you or even cry on your shoulder. Such gestures serve to give assurance to your family/friend that you are there for them, and that you are willing to be there even when it’s just painful.
It is comforting to know that someone cares when you’re grieving, it makes the other feel less alone and more anchored.
2. Listen Yet Encourage
This could be a bit tricky because you want to encourage your friends to recognize their grief but not everyone is ready to talk about it. Some people process their grief by talking about it while others take need time before they can talk about their pain.
You just have to be there when your friend/family is ready.
When they do feel like talking about it, listen more and talk less. Ask them more about their experiences and use validating phrases such as “I can’t imagine how hard this is for you”. This validates the other does not dismiss or minimize their grief.
Also, talk less about your experiences, and while it is welcome to hear stories about how someone went through the same experiences, know that it’s selfish to be talking about yourself all the time.
Remember this is about your friend’s experience and not about you or your experience. Share your experience but do not hog the conversation.
3. Send Care Packages
Grief often alienates and isolates a person, thus care packages serve as reminders that they are not alone and that someone is always ready to help.
Care packages can include your loved one’s favorite things. You can bake their favorite pastries, or buy their favorite doughnuts, even just buying them their coffee is a comforting act to those who are grieving.
You can also include a condolence card or a simple letter, letting the other know that you are there whenever they need someone to talk to.
4. Help Them Celebrate Their Bunny’s Life
For others, celebrating the life of their pet helps them find closure, recognize, and process their grief. This also helps set them on a path of healing. Celebrating the life of a pet can be done in different ways but it usually involves creating a tangible thing that they can keep remembering their pet.
You can do a corkboard collage of their pet and the moments they spent together. Or you can help create a scrapbook of their best memories together.
This will bring out fond memories and help them focus on happy times rather than always wallowing in the throes of grief.
You can even work with the talented artist on Etsy to help them create a custom portrait of their bunny which will always bring a smile to their face for years to come.
Talking about fond memories of their departed pet rabbit is also a way of celebrating the life of their pets.
Grief is bleak and dark and it feels like an unending tunnel. Talking about the good things helps the others get out of the bleakness and it also helps them realize that there is an end to the tunnel.
Talking is a great form of therapy, so while this does not immediately help them get over their grief, it does set the other on the path of healing.
6. Schedule Play Days With Their Other Pets
It’s hard to have fun when you’re grieving but, one of the advantages of having a pet is that it helps you be more social and stay connected.
If your friend/family has lost a pet and still has some pets at home, you can schedule play dates with your pets. This will distract your friend, even if just temporarily.
7. Use The Bunny’s Name
Keep referring to a rabbit who has passed away by their names. Do not refer to them as “your pet” or “it”. These animals are companions or even members of the family to those who grieving their death. Not calling their deceased rabbit by their names can feel dismissive, rude, or even offensive.
Most pet owners consider their pets as family. You wouldn’t want to call a family member who passed as “them”, “he”, “she” or “it”. Thus, you shouldn’t do the same with a deceased pet rabbit. Besides, using their names is a way to honor their memory.
8. Give Them Time To Grieve
They say that time heals all wounds, and this is true with grief. People need to take time to process their grief.
Healing is a journey and can’t be expedited. Thus, don’t try rushing your friend/family. If they’re not ready to talk about their loss then let it go, do not push or force them towards “healing”. This will only do more harm than good. Respecting their time and just being there is enough to comfort them.
9. Donate In The Bunny’s Name
This is another great way to celebrate a pet’s life. There are many organizations that you can choose to be beneficiaries of your donation.
If the pet who passed was adopted you can donate to the adoption agency that once sheltered the pet. Donations also help fund organization efforts and will ensure that bunnies get a chance at a good home and a good life
10. Watch For Signs Of Danger
Finally, if you even suspect that your friend or family member is showing any signs of suicidal thoughts or if they’re known to be suffering from some form of mental health illness, then you should help them get referred to a mental health expert.
You can also help them connect to a support group as well for those who have experienced a recent loss of a pet. It might surprise you but there are Pet Support Hotlines that you can call for support.
Do not ever ignore signs of help or sudden changes in energy/attitude. Always remind them that you are available and that you are there for them no matter what.
11. Get Them More Help To Move Through The Grief
Sometimes we need a professional’s help and, fortunately, the “How to ROAR: Pet Loss Grief Recovery” plan is full of exercises and activities to help someone who has lost a bunny (or any pet) move through the grief and to a better future.
It’s a proven help to those grieving the loss of a pet, and it’s affordable. All you really have to lose is the pain.
You can learn more about How to ROAR: Pet Loss Grief Recovery at this website.
7 Ways How Not to Comfort Someone Who Has Lost a Rabbit
Again, there are many things that you should avoid when comforting someone who has had a pet rabbit pass on. I compiled the top seven and most common ways that can inadvertently be painful or offensive for people who are grieving.
If you have made the below mistakes, then don’t feel too bad. The important thing is that you have recognized the mistake, demonstrate your regret, and show that you’re willing to learn so as not to repeat the mistake in the future.
1. Never Invalidate Their Feelings
Never invalidate a grieving person’s feelings. Sometimes, especially with people who have not experienced owning a pet, they can say words meant to comfort that come across much harsher than intended.
Such words include “but it was only a pet” or “it was just a bunny, you can always get another one”
Although people also do not necessarily mean to be insensitive words like these can be construed as condescending or dismissive.
Strive to your loved one’s feelings even if the situation seems more trivial to you.
2. Never Say “It’s For The Best”
This is another phrase that is supposed to be well-meaning but can be very hurtful to those who have had a pet rabbit pass away. Even if there is a grain of truth in the comment – their bunny is old, sick, and in pain – this is a painful truth for the grieving to find on their own.
You don’t need to tell them this repeatedly. It doesn’t make the grief less easy or less painful. Loss is loss, and whether it’s sudden or a long-drawn-out battle, it doesn’t change the impact that it has on a person.
3. Never Say “I Know How You Feel”
I’ve said that people deal with loss and grief differently. And yes, you might have lost a pet too, and you might mean well, but this again has to potential to feel like you’re invalidating the other person’s feelings or simply trying to make the sad situation more about yourself.
While you do know the pain of loss, you don’t exactly know the specifics of what the other person feels. So no, you don’t know exactly how they feel.
Thus, avoid saying this to a grieving person. Instead, let them know that you are there for them whenever they need someone to talk to. It is more comforting and less insensitive sounding.
4. Careful Telling Them Their Rabbit Is In A Better Place
I think this is often a pointless statement. It doesn’t make the person less sad or does it minimize the impact of the pet’s passing.
There are better ways to comfort a friend, such as listening to them talk about their feelings or helping them celebrate the life of their pet.
5. Do Not Suggest A New Bunny Too Soon
Suggesting that your loved one gets a new pet bunny too soon can amplify the pain of their grief instead of calming it. Such a suggestion can make it seem that you see their bunny’s death as trivial or that their rabbit is easily replaceable. Pets that are strongly bonded with their owners are like family.
Many rabbit owners think of their bunnies as best friends or some even like children. Each pet has a special place in an owner’s home and heart that can never be replaced by another.
6. Don’t Tell Them They Have Other Pets
Each pet is a distinct and unique part of a family. They are each irreplaceable.
Think of each pet as being part of a family; each member of a family is unique and they have their roles in the family unit.
One pet could be the chill one, the other pet the rowdy one, one could be the mother of the group, etc. Thus, the loss of one makes an incomplete unit and their loss is heavily felt.
7. Do Not Immediately Get Them A New Rabbit
I don’t think I can emphasize this point too strongly, but pets who pass are not easily replaceable. So it is not a good idea to surprise a grieving owner with a new bunny, no matter how cute that new bunny is.
Besides, they might not be in the right headspace yet for a new pet bunny so it is not your place to choose to add the responsibility of a baby bunny to their existing burden of grief.
I truly hope that I have helped you and guided you through comforting a loved one who has recently had a pet rabbit pass away.
Have you lost a pet bunny? If you’re willing, please take a moment and share your healing journey with us and let us celebrate the life of your beloved bunny!