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.
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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.
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:
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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:
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