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Helping Children Grieve the Loss of a Pet

  • 4 min read

Helping children grieve the loss of a pet is a difficult situation for many parents. A pet is like a family member and best friend for most children. Undoubtedly, losing a pet is a horrible feeling. Adults can be crushed by it, and it is just as bad for children. You can not protect your child from the loss of a loved pet, but you can help them cope with it. If you teach your little one to understand their feelings it will make it easier for them to deal with similar difficult situations in the future. In the following article, we’ll dive into helping children grieve the loss of a pet. 

Discussing the Loss and Being Supportive

Informing your child that they won’t see their pet again is challenging. Some parents try to sell made-up stories to their kids, but experts agree that the truth is always the best. Tell your child what happened – and you don’t have to pretend you aren’t hurt. Show them that you’re in pain and be open about it.  Doing this will show compassion and let your child know that they are not alone. 

Be Supportive

During these difficult times of grief, it’s vital to ensure that you and your children feel united. Listen to them as they express their emotions and fears. If they’re hesitant to talk, encourage them to do so because it will help alleviate a bit of their sorrow. A key element in helping kids cope with the death of a pet is the support and unity they feel with their parents.  Listening to them, hearing their thoughts and feelings, helps them to feel connected, which is especially important when they’re dealing with loss.

You can also show your support by watching a pet related movie or a cartoon. If you’re more into books than movies, choose achildren’s book that deals with some levels of grief.

Encouraging Creative Expressions

A good way to help your child process their grief is to ask them to say farewell to their pet in a creative manner. Have them draw their pet so they have something to remember their beloved companion. Make a memorial to your pet together, like a marker for their grave or a clay figurine of your pet to keep on the mantle. Plant a memorial garden for your pet or write a song together about them. Allowing your child to create a way to memorialize their furry friend will help them to heal.

Creating New Joyful Memories

One of the most effective ways to combat sadness is to cultivate joy. Plan a family outing. Visit a place where your child has always wanted to go. The focus of this trip should be all about them. You don’t have to travel far to reintroduce happiness into your little ones’ lives. Encourage them to try a new hobby; this can aid their healing as they make new friends, learn new things, and divert their attention to positive experiences.

Supporting Shelter Animals

Supporting animals in a shelter is an excellent way to teach your children that all animals need our love and care. Spend a weekend aiding animals in a shelter in honor of your departed pet. Your children will likely form a bond with the shelter animals, and they’ll wish to help them again

Remembering the Pet in a Positive Light

Pets are sources of immense joy for their owners, especially for children. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, so you'll likely have photos and videos of your pet as keepsakes. But there's an even better way to help your child remember your pet. You can create a custom stuffed animal  that resembles your pet, a perfect choice of what to give a child who lost a pet. This will provide them with an opportunity to embrace their pet again.

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If you don't opt for a stuffed animal or any physical memento, engage your child in conversations about their pet to keep their memory alive. Remind them of their pet's unique quirks or intelligence. Ensure they remember them at their best.

Deciding on a New Pet

You don’t always want to jump headfirst into adopting another pet immediately after losing your previous one. Introducing a new pet into your family requires your utmost attention and patience. It is likely your new pet won’t get this attention if your mind is occupied elsewhere. For more information on this topic, feel free to check out our full blog post on when to adopt a new pet after the previous one passed away. Chatting with otherswho experienced the loss of a pet in childhood, it turns out that the most important thing for them was support and unity with their parents; and even now, in adulthood, being with a close-knit, loving partner gives the necessary support in overcoming traumatic situations. 

Helping children to cope with the death of a dog or any other pet is no small task. We hope these suggestions are helpful in dealing with children who have suffered a pet loss. Your role as a parent may not be simple, but this situation, if handled empathetically, hcan strengthen your bond with your child.

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