The loss of a pet: helping your children through this sad time

Losing a pet can be difficult for the whole family. However, young children may have no prior experience with death and may therefore be confused about where their animal friend has gone. There are some ways that you may be able to make these discussions easier and clearer, as well as to help your child go through the grieving process safely.

This could help them to build up their resilience, but also teach them how to deal with negative feelings in a healthy manner.

Use artwork

You may have a number of pictures of your pet on your cellphone or computer. Using these, you may be able to create brand new canvas prints documenting your pet’s life from when you first got them, right up until a more recent time. This can help to keep some of the memories of your pet alive. It may also be nice for your children to still see these pictures each day, and allow you to broach discussions about the pet in question. You may be able to show them the difference in age, which could be useful if your pet died of old age. 

Create mementos

Older children may have some grasp on death, but still feel incredibly hurt that their pet is no longer with them. It may be especially hard on children who have effectively grown up with the animal, and do not remember a time when they weren’t around. Like with human ashes, you could also have your pet’s ashes turned into memorial jewelry. This can enable you to have a piece of your pet forever turned into a bead or gemstone, which could then be worn as a necklace, bracelet, or other item. There may be some cost attached to this, varying depending on the provider you use. Therefore, it could be a good idea to keep your pet’s ashes safe up until a point where you know exactly what you wish to do with them and have the money to do so.

Don’t sugar-coat things

It can be tempting to try to make things easier for your child by telling them that the pet went away or is up in the sky. While this may seem kinder, it may actually make the process far more difficult. Being honest, yet kind, and explaining that the pet has died may help your child to go through the stages of grieving. This can also help them to understand that their pet won’t be coming back. It can be hard for both parties, and your child may have questions about what happens. Showing them that you are also upset can also be a good way of normalizing showing and discussing emotions.

It may be sad to lose a pet, but there are things you can do to make it easier on your family. Rather than attempting to replace them, you should consider the ways you can work through your emotions together, as well as remember those good times.

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