12:22 12 January 2010

Pet Loss and Children II

dreamstime_1324598Telling a child that they have just lost their best friend, their pet, can be one of the hardest things we will ever have to do as parents.  Children will often have questions after their pet dies like: Why did my pet die?  Where does my pet go now?  Will I ever see my pet again? If I wish really hard will my pet come back?  Was it my fault?  Does death last forever?  If I am really good can I get him/her back?    It is very important to answer each question simply and honestly.

Children may experience anger, sadness, fear, denial, or guilt when their pet dies.  They may also be jealous of their friend who still have a living pet.  Parents can serve as models by openly sharing their feelings with their children about death.  Let your children know that it is a normal part of life and it’s okay to feel sad and miss the pet.  Encourage your youngsters to come to you with question and for reassurance and comfort.

Remember there is no “best” way for a child to mourn.  Mourning a pet has to be done in the child’s own way. They need to be given time to remember their pets.  It helps to talk about the pet with family members and friends.  When the pet dies, let the children help you bury it , make a memorial, and even have a ceremony.  Let the children be involved in creating  a Pet Memorial  Headstone for your lost family member to put  over the grave in the backyard or in a pet cemetery.  It will help them feel more connected to the life of the pet, and will bring back fond memories each time they look at it.  It can also help them get through the grieving process and and help them find some closure.

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