More people are beginning to accept the loss of a dog, cat, or other loved and cherished pet as a grief-filled experience. The increasing popularity of pet cemeteries attests to this fact. The arrangements may be new, but the sentiments are not. Long before the prevalence of today’s pet cemeteries, Queen Victoria of Great Britain dedicated a special resting place for the pets of military men serving at Edinburgh Castle. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose to be buried next to his beloved dog Fala at their home in Hyde Park, New York.

Bereavement following the loss of a pet may seem inappropriate to some, but it is no light matter to thousands of animal lovers. Animals are protectors and fast friends to the young, valued family members and cheering companions to the elderly. They are confidants to singles, they soothe prison inmates, and they gladden the lives of many who are institutionalized.

(The Art of Condolence: What to Write, What to Say, What to Do at a Time of Loss )

pets love unconditionally

Dear Kelly,

I want to tell you how sorry I was to hear of the death of your
wonderful companion, Chipper. He was a great friend and you
were some pair of playmates for each other. But more than that,
Chipper had a beautiful soul, a warm heart, and a caring quality
that made him a very special dog.

It’s a hard blow for you and at this sad time I want you to know that you have my sincere sympathy.

Dear Rushmores,

We want to express our sympathy upon the death of your sweet
cat today. After speaking with Mark it was apparent that the
decision to ease her final days wasn’t easy.

Jane and I know that your family pet was deeply loved for
many years. Cats are such independent creatures; we never quite
know if they are going to let us into their world. But when they
do, they allow us to love them unconditionally, and the loss of
a loved one is always painful. Of course, not everyone, especially
those who have never shared their home with a pet, will under-
stand your sadness, but the sadness is there nonetheless.

We hope you will give yourselves permission to feel the

Thinking of you.

Suzanne and Jill

The following is from The Letters of Edith Wharton, edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis (Scribner’s, 1989):

Small dogs, a long succession of them, were the joy and solace of Edith Wharton’s life. Their loss afflicted her hardly less than that of much loved humans, and she was sure that other dog lovers felt the same. Here she condoles with Charles Eliot Norton...the death of his dog Taffy.

June 30 [1908]

Dear Mr. Norton,

When Teddy and I heard yesterday from Lily (Norton’s daughter Elizabeth) of Taffy’s sad taking-off we both really felt a personal regret in addition to our profound sympathy for his master.

His artless but engaging ways, his candid enjoyment of his dinner, his judicious habit of exercising by means of those daily rushes up and down the road, had for so many years interested and attracted us that he occupies a very special place in our crowded dog-memories.

As for your feelings, I can picture them with intensity, since to do so I have only to relive my poor Jules’ last hours and farewell looks, about a year ago!

Somebody says “L’espoir est le plus fidele des amants” (“Hope is the most faithful of lovers”)—but I really think it should be put in the plural and applied to dogs. Staunch and faithful little lovers that they are, they give back a hundred fold every sign of love one ever gives them—and it mitigates the pang of losing them to know how very happy a little affection has made them.

Complete letters of condolence after which to model your own:
When you know the deceased;
When you didn't know the deceased.

Famous historic letters.