When A Pet Dies: Advice To Help Your Children Deal With It

Losing a pet is often the children’s first encounter with death. You should be with your child in this process and help him deal with the situation.
When a pet passes away: Advice to help your children deal with it

It’s incredibly brain-wrenching when a pet passes away. In addition to the pain you yourself feel, you may worry about your children as this is often their first encounter with death. In this article, you can learn how to help your child overcome the death of a pet.

Advice to help your children deal with the death of a pet

It does not matter how it happened, whether it is due to a long battle with an illness or a tragic accident, or what size it was on the pet or how long it had lived with the family. In reality, losing a pet can be difficult for the child to understand, accept and get over.

Pets are part of the family. They are playmates and good partners out on adventures. As for their passing, children tend to become emotionally distraught, to feel abandoned, and even to develop a fear of losing someone else.

Keep reading to learn how to help your child overcome this difficult experience.

1. Understand how happy the child was in his pet

Dog and family
A pet is like a family member, especially for your children

The first step in helping the child in this process is to try to understand what they are going through. Maybe you see family pets as just that: a companion.

For the vast majority of children, however, pets are more than this. They are their best friends and they can even see them as siblings.

Grieving over a pet that has passed away is difficult, just as if other family members passed away. This is because, no matter what species the animal is, your child loved it as part of the family.

2. Feel empathy with your child

Put yourself in their shoes. Try to feel empathy with your child and understand how you would feel in their place.

Watch them closely because this is about acceptance, not pain. Losing a loved one in death hurts no matter who it is or what happened.

If the pet passed away after being ill for a long time, it is probably easier to accept it than if the cause of death was an accident. After all, when a child knows the animal is sick, death can be more predictable.

The unpredictability of certain situations, such as a fatal accident, can be the first time a child finds out that not everything can be controlled, and this  can lead to them developing a lot of fear.

3. When a pet passes away: Avoid downplaying the reality of the child

In an attempt to protect their children, some parents choose to say that the pet “ran away” instead of explaining that it died in an accident.

Do not do this.

Talking to your child about the fact that your pet has passed away is incredibly difficult. However, your child deserves to know the truth.

4. Play with your child

Accompany your child through the grieving process by playing with them.

Some children may even pretend that their stuffed animal is getting sick and dying. This role-playing game can be powerful and healing. Take advantage of it and use it as a game to teach your child to understand and accept a death in the family.

Mother and child reading a book
Through stories for children, you can help your child deal with the grieving process.

There are many stories about a family member or pet passing away, such as For Ever in Your Heart by Sumara Marletta Guimbra. Take the time to read a story about the death of your child, and then talk about it.

6. Express your feelings to help your child recover from the pet’s death

Some children find it difficult to express the pain they feel. Become your child’s catalyst by letting yourself show them that you’re also affected by the passing of their pet.

Teach your child that it’s okay to be sad,  that it’s normal to cry and that there’s nothing wrong with missing someone you love.

7. Talk to your child when a pet passes away

Death usually causes children to ask endless questions. Be ready to answer as honestly as possible while making sure the answers are appropriate for the child’s age.

8. Honor the life of the pet

When pets pass away: Dog and family
Talk to your child about the best memories they have of the pet to bring back fond memories.

Do not forget to talk about your child’s pet. After all, it is important for your child that they talk about them and remember the good times the family spends with the pet. A small funeral can be a great way to help your child.

Saying goodbye to your pet may be what your child needs to feel a little better. However, this does not mean that the pain will go away and that they will stop missing the pet.

Another option is to make a photo album of or plant a tree to honor the pet, making it easier for the child to remember it.

9. Do not give your child a new pet right away

Your child needs time to process the loss and to accept that their good friend is no longer there.

Do not try to fill this emptiness with a new animal. Give your child time to let them get over the loss before you think about adopting a new pet.

10. Keep an eye on your child when a pet passes away

It is common to have moments of sadness and tears. However, if you notice that your child has nightmares, does not sleep or feels anxious, talk to their doctor. It may be necessary for the child to receive counseling that can help them get over the pet’s death.

Losing a pet is often the children’s first encounter with death. Be patient, spend time with your child and show them how much you love them. Help them get over the pet’s death gradually, as if it were a person who passed away, because the pet was the child’s best friend.

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