Pet Loss and Children
Many people do not realize how traumatic and confusing death can be on a child. Although children tend to grieve for shorter periods of time, their grief is no less intense than that experienced by adults. Children also tend to come back to the subject repeatedly; so extreme patience is required when dealing with the grieving child. It is natural to want to protect our children from painful experiences. Most adults, however, are surprised to find how well most children adjust to the death of a pet if they are prepared with honest, simple explanations.
Some helpful tips for helping the grieving child include:
- Include the child in everything that is going on.
- Give the child permission to work through grief by acknowledging their pain.
- Tell the child's teacher about the pet's death.
- Encourage the child to talk freely about the pet.
- Give the child plenty of hugs and reassurance.
- Avoid using phrases like "put to sleep", or "God has taken". The child can become afraid of going to sleep, or learn to fear that God will take them, their parents or their siblings.
- Discuss death, dying and grief honestly. Explain the permanency of death.