Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Pet

Losing a dearly loved pet can be an overwhelming experience for anyone; but, children struggle more to learn and comprehend. Children usually have a soft spot for pets, they give the kids the chance to communicate, love, and receive comfort from the pet. On the loss of a pet, children oftentimes find it hard to understand mortality and express their feelings of mourning. As adults, one of our priority tasks is to be supportive and guiding in helping children deal with losing their pet. To prepare them for when that day comes, let them know that “Fluffy is very sick and we don’t know how long he will still be with us”. It is difficult to know how much they understand but they will ask very specific questions to help themselves deal with it. “Fluffy may go to heaven soon”. There are also many books you can purchase in preparation that you can read to them to help them understand. 

  • Be honest

Honesty is needed while talking about the loss of a pet with children because the first thing is the most important. It’s just normal to shield them from pain, but telling them the truth about what has happened helps them to trust you and understand. Using a language, that a child can understand and providing an assurance that it is okay to feel sad is the right approach to explaining THE concept of death. 

  • Provide Opportunity for Expressing Emotions

Give children tools to channel their emotions in positive ways. Some want to share their feelings and others feel relief from closing by drawing, writing and even creating a memorial wall for their pet. Let them know that there is no right grieving way and that their feelings and emotions are all okay.

  • Let Them Say Goodbye

Give them the opportunity to say goodbye, and let them hug and kiss their furry family member one last time. It is very important to let them know that they won’t be coming back so the children are not wandering around the house looking for them and worried they ran away. Develop opportunities for children to bid their pet farewell and take part in rituals that are meant to immortalize their memory. This can be a tiny memorial where you do a few things like planting a tree or flowers in their memory or creating a scrapbook of those memories. These rituals help provide closure and children get a chance to make a tribute to their beloved pet they have known. 

  • Assure them of Your Support

Provide extra love and care when the child is undergoing this transition. Give good care for your family, participate in activities that bring fun and grief, and provide much love and support. Tell your kid that they are not all alone in their grief and that you’re there for them every step of the way.

  • Validate their feelings

Try to induce kids to say whatever comes to their mind and not worry about death and loss; in case they have any doubts. Be patient and empathic with them as they go through the very tough subject, giving them a soft hand and words of consolation when they need it. Validate their feelings and let them know that it is normal to have these emotions- sadness, anger, confusion.

  • Share Memories

One way you can help children learn to love their pets is by narrating stories about their pets and reminiscing the cheerful moments they experienced together. Give priority to the love and affection that their pet brought into their life instead of speaking about the loss. Let them keep these moments dear and embrace them with all their heart. Printing photographs of good memories with their loved one and making a little album for them to reflect on is very comforting. In the moments they get sad they can look at it and remember the good times and turn the sad moment into a happy memory.

  • Enhance Communication

Keep the lines of communication open with your loved ones during the weeks and months after the loss of a pet. They may feel waves of grief which might come and go every now and then, it is important to provide them with consistent support and understanding. Tell them that it’s okay to mention their feelings whenever they feel like it and this way, they will feel their emotions are valid.

Conclusion 

The loss of a pet is difficult and challenging for someone who is a child. Nevertheless, accepting love, being patient, and having support can help them to overcome their grief and to treasure the memories of their late pet for lifetime.

At Gentle Pet Crossing we are ready to offer assistance in organizing for your departed loved furry friend to get their last respects in an environment where love abides. Please contact our team today for assistance!