With having a pet, comes the possibility of losing him. Of course, we expect him to have a very long, healthy and happy life, but there are some things we cannot control. I try to keep my children well-rounded by being open with them and having the REAL conversations. So, when they recently asked if Ghost was ever going to Heaven, I had to really think about how to discuss it. And also how to prepare for the worst. After doing some research, these are the ways I came up with to help children deal with the loss of a pet. Hopefully, these tips can help you get some idea of what you can do to help your children to cope if the unexpected occurs.
A few months ago, we got our first family dog! He is a Miniature American Eskimo and we named him Ghost (for all of you ‘Game of Thrones’ fans). He is the perfect addition to our family! It is actually difficult to remember what our lives were like before him.
Losing a pet is very hurtful no matter how old you are. So for children, it can be a very hard and stressful time for them and you. Most of the time, the death of a pet will be a child’s first contact with death, so helping them to not only get through it, but also learn from it, is crucial to help them in their lives. Most children will grow up with a pet and become close and best friends. So when they are gone, it is important to be ready for questions. This needs to be met with guidance to make sure they come out of it with an understanding.
Explain it to them
If a pet is having to be put down or has died, then it is best to discuss this with your children and explain what is happening and why. If you can help them deal with this as best as possible and understand death and why this had to happen, it can really help with loss further down the line as they go through their lives.
When explaining this to them, just explain that you all love your pet and that you need to make sure you do the best for them, advise that everything that can be done has been done, but the pet was too sick to carry on. The main thing in this conversation is to make your children aware that they will not be coming back. This will stop them thinking that the pet will be returning and hoping they come back. Another reason it is best to have this conversation with them is so you can give them the option if they would like to go with you and say goodbye. If they are not able to to say goodbye, then it can play on their mind and be harder for them to understand.
Make special memories of the pet
Creating something that your children can use to remember their pet is a great way to help them grieve. You can get them to create a collage of their pet or create a photo book for them to look through when they want to remember them or feel sad. If you chose to have your pet cremated, then you can have the ashes in an urn or box that they can see when they want to. Another way is to give them something to always remember them by is by giving them something with the ashes inside that they can keep with them. You can get necklaces for cremation ashes; this will allow your children to have something they can always have them and remember them by.
If you chose to bury your pet in your garden, then you could plant a tree for them or make a little grave. This will give them something to visit and talk to them should they want to. They could also put photos there or the pet’s favorite toy. It is good to have a little service for your pet so they can say goodbye.
Make sure you let others know about the loss
If your children are going to school, then it is best to make their teachers aware. This is so they know not to mention the pet and are aware that they may be sad and feeling lots of emotions at that time. It is a sensitive time for them, so they may be angry and distance themselves. It is best that people know this and can give them the space or comfort they need. Since children can be easily distracted, you do not want your children to get into trouble for not doing work because of this. It is also advised to alert other family members so that if they are visiting, they will know the situation and be able to handle it better without upsetting the children.
Losing a pet is a horrible time for anyone, but it can be turned into a lesson in the loss for your children and be good for them in the long run if dealt with correctly. Hopefully, these tips will help you get your children through their loss and move on in a healthy way.
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