Tips for parents with Chrildren who are grieving the death of a beloved pet

Pets are so much more than just family members to your kids. They are their best friends, companions and their source of comfort when they are sick or sad. Thus, the loss of a beloved pet for your child can be heartbreaking. Although it is almost impossible for you to protect your son or daughter from the pain that comes from the demise of their furry friend, you can help your child cope with this loss.

Hopefully, with your help, your child may soon be able to talk about their pet’s fond memories with a smile on their face. Here are a few suggestions on how best to help your child cope with the loss of their favorite pet.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Waiting Time and Sharing the News

If your pet has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or they are very old, you may be aware that their time is near. Alternatively, your vet may have suggested euthanasia to ease the pain of your terminally ill pet. In such instances, it's best to prepare your child before your pet’s demise.

When death happens, we recommend that you let your child know. Calmly break the sad news to your child and answer your child’s questions as comprehensively as possible. It’s best if the news comes from you instead from other family members. We're All About Cats advise that you let your child know that your pet hasn’t gone to sleep or run away, but that what has happened is final. This eliminates any false hopes your child might have of seeing their pet soon.

When breaking the sad news, consider the age of your child, their maturity level and take care not to hurt their feelings. For instance, rather than saying the pet would never have gotten better and that’s why euthanasia was necessary, let your child know that the use of euthanasia was the kindest way to take your pet’s pain away.


Helping Your Child Cope with the Loss

Talking about your pet with your child is an excellent step to help your child cope with the loss. Do not try to hide your emotions or ask your child to be strong. It’s comforting for your child to know that they aren’t the only ones hurting.

Let your child know that it is natural to feel what they are feeling be it anger, loneliness, frustration, guilt or pain. However, let them know it was in no way their fault that their best friend died.

Don’t pressure your child to talk about their grief if they are not ready to, but assure them you are always available in case they need you. Further, you can offer them choices on how they can deal with grief without having to talk about it. Some options include:

        Writing a letter or poem to their pet

        Making a scrapbook with their pets photos

        Sharing the memories of their pet using a tribute video

Photo by Sabina Fratila on Unsplash

Moving Forward

Children deal with loss differently. Some move on quickly while others may find it difficult to move on. Either way, you should not ignore the healing process or try to belittle how your child feels during this time.

Remembering your pet even a few months or years after their demise is one way of letting your child know that the pet was special and they aren’t forgotten.

Here are a few suggestions on how to keep the pet’s memories intact:

        Keep a pet’s memento – Allow your child to keep their pet’s favourite toy or collar with them. You can have a customized keepsake box to store the mementos.

        Create a pet memorial - Use a casket or create a unique stone plaque or a handmade memorial for your pet. Let your child leave their pet’s favourite toys at the memorial or help them plant flowers. A memorial provides a special place that your child can visit when they miss their pet.

        Join a virtual grief support community - A virtual memorial home for departed pets provides numerous ways for your child to deal with grief and to remember their pet. Further, your child will be able to share with other people who are also going through the bereavement process.

        Create a memorial quilt – You can use old photographs to create a unique quilt in memory of your departed friend.

        Engraved bracelet – Have a bracelet engraved with your child’s pet name and let your child keep it.

        Plant a tree – Help your child plant a tree in memory of their departed friend. Plant it in your pet’s favorite spot. Help nurture it and let it be a memory for generations to come.

        Have a portrait – If you have a photo of your child’s pet, ensure you have it framed. You can also frame their favorite toy or collar and hang it in your child’s room or somewhere prominent in your home.

If you and your child are currently grieving over your lost pet, we are sincerely sorry for your loss. We hope our ideas will help you cope with the loss and help you to be able to relish the happy memories you had with your beloved pet.

Are your children healing and ready to adopt a new pet? Click here to make sure you are ready for the responsibility

Contributed by John Woods

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