How To Help Your Child Cope With The Loss Of A Pet
Age appropriate honesty is key...
1 February 2018
Children, and especially the younger ones, deal with pet loss in a very intense manner. And parents need to understand that in order to give their little ones the help and support they need during such times.
Pets are more than just animals families own, or at least for most children, that’s the case. And the happiness pets bring to their young owners goes hand hand-in-hand with the sorrow of their loss.
And helping children cope with a pet loss can teach them how to deal with other losses throughout life. That’s why it’s very important for parents to know how to console their children in cases of pet loss.
And here are a couple of tips to help your child deal with pet loss:
Sharing The News
The most difficult part of losing a pet is breaking the news to the child. And based on the child’s age, maturity level, and life experience, parents should determine how much they need to know. Here are a couple of advices on breaking a pet loss new to your child:
- Do it one-on-one with your child
- Take them to place they feel comfortable and safe in
- Be brief
- Let your child’s questions determine how much information you provide
- Explain what happened calmly
In Cases Of Euthanasia
If you have to euthanize your pet, try explaining that to your child by saying things like:
- the veterinarian has done everything he/she can
- the pet would never get better again
- this is the kindest way to take the pet’s pain away
- your pet with die in a peaceful way
- the pet won’t be scared or hurt
Tell Them The Truth
Avoid lying to your children about a pet loss no matter what. Lies like ‘the dog ran away’ or ‘the cat went on a trip’ won’t alleviate the sadness of a pet loss. And if the child ever finds out, they’d probably be very angry you lied.
Life After Death
If the child asks what will happen to the pet after death, you can simple explain life after death from your own understanding and beliefs. Or even better, a simple ‘I don’t know’ would be sincere and good enough. It’s okay to tell children death is a mystery.
Help Them Cope
Your child might feel sad, lonely, angry if the pet was euthanized, frustrated, or even guilty for the times they were mean to the pet. Help your child understand that it’s okay to all of that, and don’t feel compelled to hide your own sadness.
Tell your child that it’s fine if they don’t want to talk about it initially, and that you’ll be there whenever they want to talk.
Showing how you feel will set an example to your young one. It’ll show them that it’s okay to feel sad when you lose a loved one, and it is okay to cry when you’re sad. It’s always comforting for kids to know they’re not going through difficult times alone.
Healing And Moving On
After the shock of the lost has faded, you need to get your child to move on. And when the time is right, consider adopting a new pet. You need to clarify that a new pet will not be a replacement, but rather a new friends and family member.