Tips & Advice In Helping Them Cope
While having pets when you have children holds many benefits and provides children with the joy that comes with the unconditional love of a pet, there can be a very upsetting side – when the pet passes away. So how do you help them cope?
I have grown up with animals and have always been a firm believer in having a household full of pets. Watching your children scream with delight when their dog, cat, bunny or bird does something funny or shows them affection would melt even the coldest of hearts.
I have also had to experience the loss of a pet on more than one occasion. It can be difficult to know how much you tell your child and how much you shield them from. This boils down to a number of different factors
Your Child’s Age
Never underestimate a child’s ability to comprehend and process grief. It is a natural part of life and one they will need to adjust to. Being honest with your child helps prepare them for the inevitable in life, which is that at times we need to process grief after losing the ones we love. How much detail I tell my children is dependant on age. I will tell my curious 7-year-old more than my 4-year-old as he better understands the circle of life.
The amount of detail you tell your child is totally up to you. I always focus on telling them what they need to know and nothing further. I’ll deflect the “how did they die” questions and focus on telling them that their pet is no longer suffering and is at peace. This is especially the case if the death of the pet wasn’t as simple as passing away in their sleep.
Allow Your Child To Grieve
My son recently lost a pet and wanted to make a cross with”RIP” on it to place in the garden, in memory of him. Allow your child to do something for their pet to honour their memory. Let them grieve for as long as they need to. When I lost my first dog as a child, I cried every night for weeks. Allowing me that time and space to grieve how I needed to helped me to get over the loss of my best friend.
It’s Okay To Let Your Child See You’re Upset
Empathy is a great quality in a person. Allowing your child to see how the death of your pet has upset you is okay. It shows them how much the pet meant to you too and how loved they were within the family. It also shows your child that it is okay to grieve and show your grief to the world.
Involve Your Child In The Burial Process
Do this only if your child feels up to it, it’s okay if they don’t. But if they choose to be involved, this can help give your child closure knowing where their beloved pet is and gives them a place to go back to if they want to.
Having a pet is a beautiful part of a child’s life. It teaches them responsibilty and gives them unconditional love from a living, breathing creature who doesn’t judge or discriminate.
Losing a pet is hard on every one but I certainly think the benefits far outweigh the downfalls. Just ensure your prepare yourself and you child for what is the inevitable circle of life.
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