Tips and tricks for cheering up a despondant loved one

posted 3 years ago in Relationships
Post # 3
9412 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I am commenting to follow this thread, because I fear I will be an absolute disaster when I lose my furbaby too. Some coping strategies would be great to hear. However, I would never privilege my dog over my husband…that seems crazy! Especially at a critical juncture in the relationship. However, it is hard to judge because everyone deals with grief differently and there is no “wrong” way. I personally think distraction would be the best bet because wallowing around in self pity never helps anyone, ever. It sounds a bit soon to replace the dog though 🙁

Post # 4
1631 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

What if instead of ‘replacing’ her puppy – you have her over to your house so she can relate with your puppies. Almost for two reasons – 1.) the theraputic use of the animal soul on her own hurting soul and 2.) for her to see that even though HER one and only dog is gone – that there other sweet, caring animal souls out there and that she wouldn’t be ‘totally’ alone if she were to have one.

I heard once about a book called ‘Three Dog Life’ and it’s about how dog-lovers have three dogs that really change them and affect them in significant ways. It might be religious centered (my Oma told me about it). Regardless, maybe it would help you to go over the ways he made her a better person and then open the door to say she still has two more dogs to go (or one if she had a childhood animal).

Kinda sounds dumb but my Oma told me about it after she lost her Airdale when I was younger. Then I lost my 15 yr old dog – Helmet the Lion Hunter when I was 24 yrs old. (Literally just teared up just typing his name) I was no less then devastated. He had been around for more of my life then he hadn’t. How do you live after that?! I basically thought that there are two more dogs that are ready and willing to help become a better person.

Finally, maybe she wasn’t able to be present for his actual passing or maybe it wasn’t as final as it felt like it should have been. What about hold a silly little ceremony? Plant a tree for him. Frame his leash and some pictures of him. Say a prayer. SOMETHING to finalize that he is gone, he will always be remembered and now its time to move on.

Just some rambling thoughts. Good luck with this 🙂

Post # 6
1631 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@Nona99:  I saw your post before about the GP knowing when to be relevent. I think thats something more of us humans could learn from.

I like the idea of telling her to buck up…

I also heard once during a grief counseling presentation given to us in the military that when talking to someone in a sitch like this that you should never tell them that ‘you know exactly what they are going through’ since everyone’s grief is their own. Their situation is unique to them in that moment and to them no one could know the pain they are living with (regardless how it compares on our own scale).

There is also the stages of grief…maybe while you are with her you could try to identify which stage she was at. Maybe even help her to understand and prepare her for the upcoming path to the last step.

Post # 7
2365 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I’m not sure if this observation will help you at all, but when my BIL’s dog died, he lost it.  Missed work, was curled up sobbing hysterically, you get the idea.  Thing was, it wasn’t about the dog.  He loved the dog, but the dog had a lot of the same conditions and symptoms as his elderly and ill mother.  When he saw the dog die, in his head he saw his mother dying and was grieving the loss of both of them.  Sometimes, the grief is for the dog, and sometimes it’s for something more.

I think in your friend’s case, she’s still dealing with the aftermath of nearly losing her husband, and I’m willing to bet that this dog has been there throughout their relationship, both the good and the bad.  She’s been able to cry at the dog and not have anyone know, and no one was judging her for it.  When she was going through a rough patch with her husband, at least someone in the house loved her without question, cared about her feelings and would snuggle when she was upset.  That’s a rough thing to lose. 

You’re amazing with words, find a way to remind her that her husband IS there for her.  He stuck with her through the shitstorm, just like the dog did.  She has friends like you that will be there too if things go sideways.  And maybe in a few months, find an excuse to drop by the shelter and see if there’s someone that touches her heart.

Post # 8
5460 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Clicked to read because I love you & I love reading your posts 🙂

On to some actual advice then… I like the suggestion to have a ceremony or some other ritual by which to remember the pooch.  I had ferrets in college and when each of them passed on I boxed up a favorite toy, hammock, and their little paw print baked in dough.  Later, when I was ready, I made a shadow box for each of them (there were 4).  Even later still, when I was ready & they had all gone on to the Rainbow Bridge I hung the displays in the utility room.  I didn’t want them in the living room because, well, it might be odd to visitors to have memorials to my dead ferrets chilling on the wall above the couch, but I like being able to take a peek and remember them fondly from time to time.

You could do the ‘tough love’ approach too, but tread lightly since she sounds like she might be in a fairly fragile state as it is.

Take her lead.  Maybe she will want to talk about the beloved pup, and if so point out how wonderfully supportive her husband is, or ask how he’s handling it… like ‘gosh, it must be hard on him too, you know how much he loves SmoochiePoo’.

Post # 9
6407 posts
Bee Keeper

@Nona99:  you must sneak puppies back into her life. She doesn’t have to own one, but she must be exposed somehow. It’s medicine. This may be challenging, because she likely doesn’t want to see puppies, as she may feel it would betray the memory of her beloved dog to take joy of being in the presence of puppies again so soon, but this is why you can take the lead on it, to help her overcome this unuseful, irrational guilt.

I do want to say though: A good friend never tries to tell her friend when that friend’s sorrow is self-indulgent. There is not really any such thing… sorrow is painful. It may seem disproportionate to an outsider, even sometimes to the sorrowful person him/herself, but it is not because it is pleasurable. If a person is actually suffering from depression, or just grief, it doesn’t matter, they want the same thing from those around them:  Bearing witness and acceptance. Bearing witness that they are hurting, their hurt is real, it cannot easily be fixed, and confirmation that you still like them anyway, and aren’t going to get frustrated or reject them even if they don’t stop hurting. Please see the Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half) comic on this topic, it’s very accurate as to what depressed people need from us, in order for them to heal fastest. And it works well for grief too.

Post # 10
9019 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

@Nona99:    Awww, so sad.  This happened to a friend of mine a few years ago; she took the death of her lab ssssooooo hard – she’d had him 14 years.  Even her perfect husband and perfect baby didn’t/couldn’t cheer her up for awhile.  She pointed out to me that he had been with her longer than either of them.   *  point  *   Undecided

All I could do was commiserate, listen, make her some nice hot tea, let her cry, look at her pictures.  It really is a loss and everyone grieves in their own way.  She told me every story, over and over. 

One day, a few weeks later, she called me all excited because she felt like she’d seen his ghost in her backyard!  She said she saw him clear as day – it was raining – and by the time she ran out there he was gone.  She said she KNEW it was him, she “felt” him.  When she called me, she said she was afraid I might think she was crazy, but I told her I believed her and felt he really came to visit and comfort her.  Strangely, she was much better dealing with his death after that… 

And some people say animals don’t have souls – I highly disagree!

Post # 13
4576 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

I agree with someone else who said it may be less about the dog and more about something else she tied to it.

A few years ago, I was going through a *really* hard time. In life, work, relationships, you name it. I was single but sort-of seeing a jackass and he was always breaking my heart. Then one day, he calls me and says that he cant take care of his 15 year old dog anymore, and if “someone” didnt take it in, he was taking it to the pound. I was so shocked by his cold behavior toward a pet he described as his best friend, so I took the dog.

That poor animal KNEW it had been abandoned, you could tell. The guy never came to see it, and continued his on-again, off-again blowing me off as well. As crazy as it sounds, I developed a bond with this dog because we *both* were being rejected. I only had him for a few months before he passed, but I was devastated like I’d owned him for years: lost about 20lbs, drank over it, etc.

Maybe she did something similar, creating an unique attachment with the dog to help her through the hard time in her marriage.

I like the idea of bringing other pets into her life…maybe the two of you could go to an adoption event together?

Post # 14
1631 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@joya_aspera:  HAAH makes me believe I am a depressive. :l

@Sunfire:  A very close friend to me passed away when I was inthe military. It was quick and sudden. I had a hard time dealing but I remember two instances that made me push through it.

1. I was cleaning and a glass rose I had literally jumped off the shelf and shattered on the floor. I hadn’t cried yet but for some reason this obnoxious knick knack broke the silence for me and I balled for hours.

2. I had a dream. My friend walked into the room I was in (in the dream) and I ran to them, hugged them, told them how much I missed them. They told me everything would be ok, they said they were safe and comfortable and hugged me back. Real or not, I woke up feeling more reassured and comforted then anything that had happened previous.

Sometimes a paranormal experience (or a normal experience touted as paranormal) might be a cure some of need to snap out of it.

Didn’t mean to threadjack Nona – just lending credibility to the idea that it might be out of our hands for this.

Post # 15
1589 posts
Bumble bee

Been there, done that.  There have been times in my life when the dog was the only one who was there for me (and she may have felt that way during the recent rocky relationship times.)  

You know her best, and how she might react, but if someone tells me to get over it and get on with it (even in a nice, loving way) I’m more likely than not to be even more stubborn.  It’s only been a week.  It took me a month to even start to do more than put one foot in front of the other.  At a month I did get another pup, but that was way too soon (for me).    I resented that the new pup didn’t act like my old girl even while I recognized that was irrational to expect. 

Maybe just invite her over and tell her that you DO get it, and that you’ll do what you can to help.  It sounds silly, but tell her that her dog would not want her to so inconsolable – that she gave him a great life and he was very lucky to have had her.   

Finally, there may be others out there but Washington state veterinary college sponsors a pet loss hotline


Leave a comment

Sent weekly. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Find Amazing Vendors