How to Console a Client After the Loss of a Pet
The death of a pet can turn even the most stoic pet owner into a blubbering mess. Even if the client has had time to prepare for the eventuality, the loss may still be incredibly devastating. If you’ve ever felt that your efforts to console a pet owner weren’t particularly effective, you’ll want to consider a few tips that may make the process a little easier.
Avoid Long Waits
Clients who accompany pets receiving euthanasia services will appreciate short waits in the waiting room. If possible, bring them back to an empty room immediately and let them fill out forms and make payments from that room. Some veterinary hospitals permit grieving clients to enter through an alternate entrance, allowing them to bypass the front desk completely.
Don’t Rush Them
When clients are upset, they may not be capable of driving home immediately or may not be ready to leave their pets. If you or your staff try to hurry them along, you may appear cold and unfeeling. Some clients may want to talk about their animals, while others will prefer to be alone and may feel embarrassed if they are forced to leave the office before they’ve collected themselves.
If you or your staff try to hurry them along, you may appear cold and unfeeling.
Assign an Empathetic Staff Member to Work with the Client
Some people have a natural ability to relate to others who are upset. If one of your staff members has a knack for consoling clients, assign him or her to work with grieving patients. Pet owners can tell when an employee is just checking items off a mental “how to console clients” list and may become angry if they feel that they’re being patronized.
Share Your Feelings
Most clients will appreciate a sincere expression of sympathy. If you knew the animal fairly well, complimenting his or her positive qualities or sharing a memory is always appropriate. Even if you didn’t know the animal well, you can still tell the client that you can tell how much the animal meant to him or her. Avoid telling clients that you know how they feel or offering religious comments. Some clients may appreciate the comments, but others may be offended.
If you knew the animal fairly well, complimenting his or her positive qualities or sharing a memory is always appropriate.
Offer Support and Comfort
Sending a card with a personal remembrance of the pet or offering to clip a piece of fur as a keepsake can provide your client with a small degree of comfort after the loss of a pet. Patients may also appreciate giving them dog or cat angel pins, clay paw prints, pamphlets or books on grieving, and even support group recommendations.
Consoling grief-stricken pet owners is definitely one of the more emotionally challenging aspects of veterinary medicine. When you take steps to make a difficult process more comfortable for your clients, both of you will benefit.