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Sending Condolences for the Loss of a Pet

Our beautiful English cocker spaniel, Chica, died recently on her 14th birthday. Having cherished her for all those 14 years, our family was very saddened by her passing, and we still are.

We were surprised and touched by a greeting card we received a few days after Chica’s death from the veterinarian who had come to our house to put Chica to sleep (that is, to euthanize her). We were surprised because we had not known the vet until she came to our home that sad day. Yet she took the time to express her condolences in the card:

“You have my deepest sympathy over your recent loss of Chica. I could tell how well loved she was, and what a wonderful life she had led.

“May you find comfort in your many memories of days shared, and of her floating away so peacefully with you all by her side.”

She signed off with “Hugs, Dr. Hanna.”

We cried just reading the card. Yet we deeply appreciated Dr. Hanna’s message.

Dr. Hanna’s job is being a veterinarian, and part of that job is releasing animals from their suffering. Notice how she also relieves the suffering of pet owners by sharing thoughtful words of sympathy and understanding.

Her message is business writing at its best.

Few of us are veterinarians, but all of us can send condolence messages to coworkers, clients, and others who experience the loss of a family member, including the loss of a pet.

If you cannot find the words to use in such uncomfortable situations, read one of my many blog posts on writing condolences, including writing condolences for pets.

Your business associates may cry when they read your message (and you may even cry when you write it), but I assure you they will appreciate it.


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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