Helping Children Cope Loss
The loss of a pet can be a very traumatic event in a child’s life.
Your child may feel a variety of emotions. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and help your child through the grieving process. This can be a difficult thing to do if you or others around you are also grieving. However, grieving together can be a great way to both help your child and help yourself.
When the loss of a pet family member occurs, be sure to inform those around the child. Often they may notice a change in behavior and it is important for them to understand where this change is coming from. They can either make you aware of concerns or help solidify concerns you might already be having.
Caregivers, teachers, grandparents, and coaches are all potential outlets your child may choose to help them deal with the death in the family. Help them be ready by talking to them first.
Questions About Death From Your Child
Often the death of a pet can lead to questions that may be difficult to answer. Let children know that it is okay to ask questions. It is best to be honest with the child. It is also okay to say you don’t know the answer. Basic answers are usually enough to satisfy a young mind.
This is an opportunity to help your child grow, understand life, and it is a great time to share personal thoughts and beliefs, creating a closer bond with your child.
It can also be an opportunity to share your spiritual or religious beliefs with your child.
Seek professional help if the child is showing signs of severe grief.
- Withdraw from friends
- Reduced or no appetite
- Afraid of being alone
- INcrease in thoughts of death
Activities that may help:
- Draw a picture or write a letter
- Have a memorial service and include the entire family and friends
- Let them keep something from their pet - a collar, tag, or favorite toy
- Plat a tree or flowers in your pet’s honor
- Gather up photographs of your pet to make a photo album
- Sharing memories of your pet can make your children sad - but it can also make them laugh
- Give your child a book on pet loss
With a little extra attention, you can help support your child through the loss and give them the tools they need to move forward.