Helping Children Cope with the Death of a Pet

When someone near and dear to you dies, it's natural to experience waves of sadness, express grief, and receive support from family and friends while coping with death. But how should your child react when she or he loses a pet? Unfortunately, some may think showing the same grief when a pet dies is unnecessary. But this is far from the truth. Caregivers love their pets and welcome them into their families. They may celebrate their pet's birthdays, take pictures with them, and confide their feelings to them. In return, their pets become loyal companions and may be one of your child's best friends after spending years bonding with your child. This makes it difficult for your child to cope with the loss, especially if it's your child's first experience of death.

How to Cope With Losing a Pet?

Protecting your child by saying that the pet ran away will do more harm than good. Since instead of learning how to grieve and accept the loss, your child will be longing and waiting for the pet to return. And when it doesn't, your child will feel sad, confused, angry or betrayed.

Here are some steps you can take to help your child cope with the death of a pet.

Step One
Understand your child's sadness. Even though you yourself may not have been extremely close or fond of your child pets your child may have been. By recognizing and acknowledging your child's emotions is the first step you can take to help your child deal with the loss of a pet.

Step Two
Give your child some time off. The death of a beloved pet to may cause major disruptions in your child's daily routines. Your child may feel unsecure or betrayed after losing the compansionship of a pet. By being easy on your child for a few days will help them grief the loss of the pet.

Step Three
Talk to your child. Talk about the good times he or she remembers spending with their pet. This will help your child postively reflect on the time they spend with their pet and bring closure. If your child is hesitant to open up, let them know it's normal to feel the way they do. Show your support.

Step Four
Hold a cermony or some kind of burial. Ask your child if he or she wants to write a poem or short story about their pet or how they want to mark their pet's grave. By holding a mock furneal, it will help bring closure to your child.

Step Five
Donate the pet's accessories. Even if you're planning to buy your child another pet, you can donate the pet's cage, food bowl, and accessories to your local animal health shelter. Take your child with you, so he or she can see how their pet's belonging can help another more unfortunate pet.

Step Six
Give your child time to heal. If you're wondering, "how much time should you give your child to grief the loss of a pet?" The answer depends on your child. It may take some children longer than others to accept the death of their pet. Try giving your child a few days to greive and then plan an exciting day trip or family activity to help your child get their mind off the death of a pet.

Step Seven
The Replacement pet. If your child's pet turtle dies try not to immediately replace it the next day with a new one. Your child may not be able to fully accept the new pet because they haven't had time to grieve. Gradually introduce the idea of a new pet to your child. If you were planning to get a new family pet, anyways, let your child become a part of the selcetion process. This will give your child something to look forward to as well.