Forest Software

Web, SEO and IT & Business Advice for the Smaller Business

Last updated on April 13th, 2015 at 02:17 pm

Murphy DogIf you employ people as a small business there will come the time that one of your employees suffers a bereavement and no doubt you will be sympathetic if it is a family member but would you be so sympathetic if the death is of a pet?

You may think that “it’s only a pet” and even suggest that the member of staff “just gets another one” but before you do stop to think for a moment.

For some people pets can be a friend, a companion, comfort or even family – I know couples that can’t have children and dote on their pets, treating them as the family that they can’t have.  How do you think these people would feel if you suggested they just get on with it and get another pet?

Remember that it is important to recognise what a pet can mean.  Not only is their love unconditional (dogs for example don’t love you only if you give them a treat – they may appreciate the treat but if you see a dog welcome an owner that treats them well you will realise that the love and joy is there regardless) but they all give you the chance to love them back.  Pets put up with our moods and our bad days and allow us to be ourselves with them.  This is a huge thing to lose and it it both usual and normal to feel grief as deeply when a loved pet dies as we would at the loss of any dear friend or loved one.

If you are an employer you can help someone that has lost a pet by remembering that people will be grieving, if you can (and it’s not always possible I know) allow staff members to take time off from their normal routine (maybe if they have to work and they are normally on the shop floor you could see if they can do something in the office or the store room for a day or so), treat them the same way as you would treat someone that has lost a close friend and don’t pass it off as “just a pet”.

You need to know that as well as feelings of sadness people can feel all, or any of the following emotions :-

  • Guilt – Could they have done more to prevent the death in some way?  This is a common emotion but if they are feeling this it is more than likely that they were doing the best they could at the time.
  • Shock and denial – This is especially likely if the pet’s death was unexpected.
  • Depression – As humans we rarely experience grief in a “in a straight line”, it is more often like a roller coaster.  So make allowances for someone that is tearful at times and “normal” at others.  Having said that if the member of staff is permanently depressed even months later you may need to think about gently suggesting that they get some help.
  • Anger and blame – When things go wrong it is perfectly normal and natural to look for someone or something to blame.  Just make sure that if your staff member expresses anger that you know why (and see if you can “nip it in the bud” by removing them from situations where this would be a problem – on a shop checkout for example).

As a pet owner for many years I have experienced some, if not all of these emotions when pets have passed away in the past and I have been lucky enough to have worked for people who have understood the feelings and emotions and made allowances for them and for that I thank them.

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