Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Pet
by C. Markus
Anyone who’s ever owned a pet knows how difficult it can be after he or she passes away. For many, pets are part of the family, and losing one can be devastating, especially for children. Parents often shelter their children from the death of a pet; however, in most cases, this is not the best approach.
If your child is old enough to reason, they should be told the truth about what is going on. Don’t tell them he “ran away”, or “got lost”. Be honest; let children know that their pet is gone and will not be coming back. For most children, the loss of a pet is their first encounter with death and it is important to deal with it in the proper way.
Here are some tips to help your child deal with the loss of a pet:
- Have a memorial service/funeral- This may sound strange for some, but it can help in the long run. Gather friends and family and have a service to commemorate your pet’s life. You can even plant a tree in your backyard in honor of your pet.
- Let your child keep a sentimental item- It may help to let your child keep a favorite toy or collar from your pet.
- Gather photos for an album- Gather as many photos of your pet as you can and make a scrapbook. This will assure your child they will always be able to see their pet when they want.
- Talk about the life and loss of your pet – While this may be upsetting, it often helps to encourage children to talk about how they feel, laugh and cry about all the times they had with their pet. This will ultimately help in the grieving process.
- Engage in regular activities- while your child might want to sit at home, make sure he or she is continuing with daily routines, such as band practice or sports. This will help them get their mind off the loss.
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