How To Help Children Deal With Losing A Pet

Children Losing A Pet

Losing a pet is a very traumatic experience for anybody. For a child, however, it is oftentimes his or her first encounter with losing a loved one. The child most likely grew up with the pet and developed a loving bond with it. He or she may even relate with it as a best friend. This is the reason that it is so important to make certain that we, as parents, help our children learn to grieve properly. What we teach them now about grief over the loss of a pet will stick with them for life, and have a dramatic impact on how they cope with death in the future.

As parents, we are typically inclined to safeguard our children from any talk of grief or death. Most experts, however, contend that this merely exaggerates a child’s uncertainty and confusion. Using phrases like ‘he died’ or ‘he is dying’ is actually a positive way to discuss death. Although a child may be unable to truly grasp the concept of finality, it at least paints a realistic picture of what occurred. On the other hand, telling a child that ‘he was put to asleep’ can potentially link a negative connotation to the act of sleeping. For instance, the child may develop a fear of going to sleep.

Suppose that a pet is dying from either old age or illness, and the veterinarian has recommended euthanasia. We can help our children understand the decision-making process by including them in the discussion. Veterinarians have extensive experience in describing animal illnesses and euthanasia to young children, and most are more than willing to answer any questions that a child may have.

It is also important that we encourage a free expression of emotions from our children. If a child, for instance, is unable to convey his or her confused feelings verbally, then he may opt to draw a picture instead. We, as parents, should also express our feelings of loss and grief. Otherwise, our children may associate our apparent detachment with proper grief management.

A confused and impatient child might also begin demanding that we purchase another pet. However, no matter how many tantrums that a child throws, it is vitally important to avoid bringing home a new pet. The process of grief over the loss of a pet must continue undeterred. Under no circumstances do we want our children to learn that a lost loved one can instantaneously be replaced.

In conclusion, I want to state that losing a loved one is a natural component of life. But, by the same token, so is recovering. By sharing our grief over the loss of a pet with our children, we are teaching them a valuable lesson about life and death. This is a lesson that will stick with them throughout their life, and one that they will remember when we ourselves, as their parents, pass.