Coping with Pet loss can be hard for both Children and adults. That furry family friend you adopted back in the day is now getting older and your kids are going to experience the loss of a pet for the first time. While this is a sad way to teach kids grief, it is full of confusing times. You see, parents want to hug their child and console them during this grieving period while the kids are so confused as to what death really means. Today we will share a few tips on how to help your child cope with pet loss as a means to help you both through this difficult time.
First and foremost you need to step back to comprehend that the loss of a pet can be extremely traumatic for a child of any age, especially one who hasn’t dealt with loss of any family member at this time in their life.
Help Your Child Cope with Pet Loss
- Give your child plenty of hugs and reassurance.
- Allow your child to talk openly and often about the pet.
- Discuss death, dying and grieving in a very honest age-appropriate manner.
- Refrain from saying anything about “sleep” regarding death as it could create sleep issues for your child.
- Allow your child space and time to grieve in the way they deem fit.
- Explain how permanent death is, so they don’t get false hope that the pet will return someday.
- Include your child in every step of what is going on as it pertains to the loss of the family pet.
Depending on the age of your child, they will experience this loss of their beloved pet differently. Between the ages of 2 up to about 5 years your child may associate death with some form of sleep. It’s best to not replace the family pet too quickly, as you need to allow the child time to grieve a bit. Once you feel the time is right, children between the ages of 2 and 5 can easily be moved forward by replacing the deceased pet with a new family pet. Remember though, this is not always the best option. Pet loss is a trying time.
Once your child starts to reach the ages of six and above, death is more of a real thing to them. This age group will comprehend death a bit deeper than the children who are under age 5. At this stage you should work to be open and honest while allowing your child the time to ask questions that receive answers. Do not avoid discussing the loss of your family pet, as this could leave damaging effects on your child into adulthood.
We all live in the real world, death is part of life. Most adults have learned the hard way through sad experiences with pet loss and family members who have passed; it’s no different with your own child. No matter how much you wish to keep your child from learning about death, a family pet may be the best way for them to truly comprehend the finality behind death and the reality behind grieving. This will strengthen your child and allow them to be more open to the idea that not everything is on Earth to stay, so as long as you help your child cope with pet loss in a respectful, compassionate and loving way.