The loss of a pet extremely difficult, but especially so for a child.
Often, their pet is a friend they’ve had for most of their life, and it can be difficult to support them as a parent, particularly while you’re also struggling with the loss.
These three simple tips will help you and your child cope with the grieving process in the best possible way.
If you have recently learned that your pet’s life is coming to an end, the best thing to do is be honest with your child. It is better not only for the grieving process, but also for their relationship/trust in you if you are upfront, but gentle, with them about the situation.
There are plenty of online resources that will give you advice on how to break the news to your child, down to the words and phrases you should use. These guides can be extremely helpful, but remember that you know your child better than anyone, so consider their understanding and the best way to communicate the situation to them.
Don’t try to keep things from them at any stage of the process – children are more intuitive than we sometimes realize and will appreciate you being tactful but transparent.
Give them space
Loss is a difficult but formative experience that will build their strength and constitution in the long run.
For this reason, it’s important to let them deal with and process the grief in their own way.
Look for resources they can engage with alone to process their emotions privately – this may be in the form of films or books targeted to children that deal with the theme of pet loss in a sensitive manner, helping them to recognize and articulate their feelings.
Remembering your pet
After the death of a pet, many children fear that ‘moving on’ means their late friend will be forgotten.
Giving your pet a good send-off sends your child the message that they will be remembered and can significantly ease the grieving process. Those memories will always be a part of your family life and reassuring kids that their pet is still loved after death will help them cope better.
Many families choose to bury the pet in the garden – however, having the pet so close to home can actually make the process harder for some children. Pet cremation is a good alternative and scattering the ashes brings closure. Crematoriums like The Wild Wood offer owners a peaceful place to say goodbye to their pet that can be revisited and can even provide mementos and keepsakes for your family to treasure.
Over time, things will get easier, but this final stage can provide a cathartic release for a child’s complex emotions surrounding loss and grief.
Losing a pet is a difficult time for the whole family, but I hope that these three tips can provide some support for you and your child.