Pet Loss: Helping Children Cope
If you have children who are so attached to their pet and you are worried about how they will feel during pet loss, then this article is for you.
Most children view their pets as family members, so when the inevitable time comes to say goodbye, they experience similar grief to losing a loved one. As parents, helping our children navigate that grief and subsequent mourning may not be easy. That is why we took the time to outline some things you can do or say to help your child know how to cope with pet loss.
7 Things You Can Do to Help Your Child Cope with Pet Loss
Pets offer comfort and companionship to humans, especially children, so no matter their mood, they will always find support and security from their animal friends. Life can be difficult and sad when a child experiences a pet’s death, like a person’s death. At this point, it’s important to show support and love as they grieve the loss of their pet. In case you don’t know how here are a few things you can do to help them.
Read More: Low-maintenance pet breeds.
Help Them Understand the Concept of Death.
The best thing to do as a parent whose child has lost a pet is to first educate the child about the concept of death. You can ask your pediatrician to help you because death can be very difficult for children to understand, and it can be equally difficult to know how to begin to explain it to them. Children’s understanding of death varies depending on their age or stage of development. Whatever the case, you should help them understand that death is a natural part of life. You can also use some examples and stories to help them understand more. Allow them to ask questions, then try to answer them simply and honestly.
Let Them Know They are not Crazy for Grieving.
Usually, grief evokes different emotions and feelings, so it’s important that your children express their grief in a safe and supportive environment. They should know that it’s okay to feel however they want to feel and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It’s important they know how to cope with pet loss at their age. It will help to develop them.
Be Clear and Honest.
The child should know what has happened, using age-appropriate language they can understand. There is no need for confusing terms or expressions; you can use words like ‘died’ and ‘dead’ rather than ‘gone to sleep’ or ‘lost’ when telling them. These terms can confuse them, especially the younger children, who may wonder if they can wake up the pet who has ‘gone to sleep’ or may even become anxious about others going to sleep.
Show Them Plenty of Love and Support.
Another way you can help your child learn how to cope with pet loss is to always show them that you care by listening to their concerns and providing comfort. Ensure they know that you love them and are there for them.
Help Them Specially remember Their Pet.
As parents and guides, it is your duty to help them celebrate and remember their dead pet. There are many ways to preserve the memory of a dead pet. You can either create a
- Memory box for them
- Make a scrapbook for them.
- Plant a tree.
Be Patient With Them.
Remember that grieving takes time, even for adults. So be patient and understand the child as they navigate their grief and adjust to life without their pet. You can relate to your pediatrician if the situation is out of control. You can offer them support and care and always remind them that you are there for them to talk at any time, any day.
Explain Your Own Sadness.
Always watch out to know if your child has more serious symptoms like sleep disturbances, anxiety, or depression. Make sure you relate it to your pediatrician immediately for follow-up. Grief-related emotions can come and go, sometimes without warning. For children, it may take longer than you thought to get through this period. Be sure to let me know how you are feeling and how you are working hard to get through it.
There is nothing wrong with you crying when you lose a pet because sometimes your emotion isn’t obvious, it may confuse your child. Understanding this is important so you can help them learn to navigate through it. But remember that not everyone knows how to cope with pet loss, and not every child expresses their grief through sadness. Another common way children express grief is through anger.
So, whenever your child displays emotions like sadness and anger, it’s important to validate them with love and support. However, you should remember that how your child reacts to the dead of their pets will depend on their age and developmental level.