The death of a pet can be just as heartbreaking as any other death. When someone you love is dealing with the loss of his dog, it is easy to feel helpless. It is important to understand that just as with any other loss, losing a dog involves a grieving process. Your boyfriend may feel angry, sad or lonely. Everyone grieves differently and there is no set timetable for how long the grieving period lasts. The main components to help a person through the mourning process are understanding and communication.
Allow time for your boyfriend to grieve the loss of his beloved companion. It may be uncomfortable and you might not know what to say, but during this time it is more important to listen than to try to offer solutions. He may not feel like talking about the death of his dog yet, but let him know you are available to listen if he needs to talk.
Accept and acknowledge all feelings that your boyfriend shares over the loss of his dog. Help your boyfriend feel free to express his feelings, without fear of judgment, argument or criticism. Offer comfort to him without minimising his loss. Dogs are often part of the family.
Offer to help your boyfriend take care of day-to-day tasks, like going to the grocery store or checking the mail. Many times, people who are experiencing grief over the death of a dog may not like to ask for help so it is useful if you anticipate what might help them.
Maintain ongoing support even after the immediate pain may have subsided. Although it may appear that your boyfriend is doing better, do not assume that he is. Continue to talk to him about his feelings related to his dog's death and encourage him to do the same.
Help your boyfriend find a way to seek closure from the loss. Often times, the death of a pet can be difficult because there is no accepted ritual, such as a funeral. There are plenty of activities that can help with the loss, such as donating money in the dog's name or planting a tree.
Make sure you are taking care of yourself during this process as well. It is more difficult to offer support to others if you are fatigued or stressed. People grieve different amounts of time, so be patient with your boyfriend. Don't suggest getting a new puppy right away. Give him time to grieve and let him suggest it when he is ready.
If your boyfriend talks about suicide, call 911 or take him to the emergency room immediately. If you don't feel your boyfriend is getting better or you are concerned about his mental health, encourage him to seek professional attention.