How to Support Your Child After a Pet Losses


One of the most challenging aspects of life is dealing with loss and death. When a family pet dies, a child may experience this difficult time for the first time. As an adult, you are aware that life has an end. A child’s typical responses are innocent and inquisitive. They look to adults to help them navigate the stages of mourning, grief, and ultimately understanding. An adult can support the child in grieving in a number of ways by understanding the loss they are experiencing and helping them process it.

  1. Be frank with them regarding death.
  2. While allowing them to see your feelings, restrain them.
  3. Encourage your child to express their emotions.
  4. Find a way to honor the animal.
  5. Show others how to handle grief by setting a good example.

Even though discussing death with children may seem very challenging, it’s crucial to tell them the whole truth and not to make any exaggerations or generalizations. Questions are common, and the best responses are open and sincere. Depending on the child’s age, they may have watched or seen a movie about death, or they may have heard about it from friends, classmates, or other people. Informing your child in an honest manner that the animal has passed away and won’t be coming back Assure them that their beloved pet’s death was not caused by any of their previous bad behavior.

The child will go through emotions they have never had to deal with when facing the difficult reality of death. As advised by the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement ” it is good to cry and show your own feelings of grief, but these must be controlled and perceived as a normal response to the loss of a loved one.” Knowing that adults can feel sad and angry will help the child understand his or her own emotions. Allow the child to talk to you about their unhappy feelings and let them know that they are common. It’s normal to get a lot of questions, so be ready to discuss what happens after death. Allow the child to illustrate their feelings using drawings, depending on their age. Both in words and deeds, children look to us for guidance.

Depending on their age, grief can take many different forms for children. So that any issues at school can be quickly identified and fixed, let their teacher know. Antisocial, violent, or clingy behavior could result from other reactions. Grief can also manifest physically in the form of bowel and bladder mishaps, inability to sleep or eat, and other symptoms similar to those that existed before the pet’s death. Allowing the child to ask questions allows you to spend more time with them and reassures them that you will get through this together.

Any arrangements for the pet’s memorial should include the child. Make sure your child understands that you value and care about their opinions, thoughts, and suggestions.

  1. A child’s ability to contribute to any kind of arrangement can be greatly influenced by pictures.
    • Encourage your child to create drawings of their pet to put in a scrapbook, next to the urn, or on the wall.
    • Allow them to browse the pictures you’ve taken to help you decide which ones to use for the funeral.
    • Let them select a photo to be used to place a memorial online
  2. If you choose cremation, let your child help you choose the room in the house where the urn will be kept. Listening to your child’s suggestions for where their pet’s final resting place should be, if the ashes are being scattered, will help your child feel closure.
  3. Burial – If your child is buried in your yard (be sure to first obtain a permit from your city), they can help choose the grave’s location and the type of marker that will be used.
  4. In your yard, plant a memorial tree or bush or a garden in honor of your pet. Your kid will want to attend and participate in this activity. Your child may play a big role in helping them feel better, which is a great way to start the grieving process depending on their age.
  5. It’s time to resume family life after your family pet has had some time to rest, but the routines will change. It will now be different what time you eat, exercise, and go to bed. It will take some getting used to for the entire family to the new routines. Ask your child what they would like to change, and then do what you can to make that happen.

Your child may experience death for the first time when the family pet passes away. They are unable to explain their feelings or how to react. Role models should be available to children, listen to them, teach them, and show them love.

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