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Death Of A Pet And Children – Helping Children With Bereavement
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The death of a pet can be devastating, as well as confusing, for a child. Sometimes, the death of a pet is a child’s first experience with death. This is an opportunity to help your child understand death and to help them grieve in a healthy manner. The most important thing is to communicate with your child. Your child may not understand as much as you think he/she does. Or, your child may understand more than you realize. That is why it is crucial to communicate openly with your child about the death of a pet. Be honest with you child and share some of your own feelings of grief.

This is also a great time to clear up any misconceptions your child may have about death and dying. Young children will not have the same reaction to the death of a pet as older children. Part of the reason is that children of different ages see the pet in different ways. The older the child, the more connected the child will be to the pet. A younger child sees the pet as a furry, fun, playmate while an older child sees the pet as a companion and confidante.

To help a child deal with the death of a pet, allow them to talk about the pet and ask questions about where the pet is now. It is okay to tell your child that you don’t know where the pet is but that the pet is no longer in pain or in danger. Depending on your religious beliefs, the child may find comfort in knowing that their pet is in heaven. Also, it is very important that your child understands that they had nothing to do with the death of a pet.

Books are a good way to help a child understand the death of a pet. There are many good children’s books on this topic. They are especially helpful when you cannot find the words to help your child through his/her grief.

Creating a memorial is a wonderful way to honor your deceased pet. The memorial could be something as simple as a drawing of the pet or as elaborate as a scrapbook. Participating in an activity such as this helps the child feel like they are doing something for their pet during a time of helplessness. This is also a nice time to share happy memories of the pet.

Closure is an important part of the grieving process after the death of a pet. You can do this by having a burial or memorial service. This shows the child that the pet was important and was not “just a pet.” Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is a wonderful way to honor the deceased family member. Be sure to let the child participate in the service. Perhaps they can set flowers on the grave or read a poem.

No matter what you do, open, honest communication is key when helping a child cope with the death of a pet. Children experience the same stages of grief as adults. It is up to us to help them understand the process.


Street Talk

Great article, I had to deal with this growing up when we lost a great dog. Thank you

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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