Creative Child

10 Tips to Help Your Child Grieve the Loss of a Pet

by Deborah Song on Dec 5th, 2014

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4. Communicate.

Talk to your child in an open and honest manner about the death of a pet. Depending on your child’s age, she may not understand death. In which case, your child should be told her pet has died and will not return, and she was in no way the case of it. Older children who can grasp the concept of death a little better may begin to fear their own death or the death of their parents.

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Reassure your child that such tragedy is not likely to happen but be honest; don’t provide guarantees you can’t promise. It’s also perfectly ok to tell your child ‘I don’t know.’ Keep answers and explanations concise and honest without providing too much detail. And resist using phrases like ‘put to sleep’ or ‘God has taken,’ which your child can misunderstand.

5. Share your own feelings.

Sharing your own feelings and even crying in front of your child shows her it’s ok to do the same. It can be difficult when you're also grieving, but it's important that we try not to overwhelm our child’s sorrow with our own.

6. Give your child permission to be emotional.

Words may be few so allow your child to cry. Children should not be criticized for crying or told to be strong. According to grief experts, one of the most important things you can do when your family loses a beloved pet is to avoid telling your child how she should feel.

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7. Provide plenty of hugs.

It’s important to buttress your child’s vulnerability with plenty of tender love and care.

8. Celebrate the life of a beloved pet.

Drawing pictures, writing letters to pets or creating a special scrapbook album has been known to benefit children.

9. Introduce books.

Books have been known to provide a third person perspective using a creative, consoling and clear narrative that speaks to children in a powerful way.

10. Maintain routine.

Maintaining daily routines help sustain normalcy and structure for your child, other surviving pets and the family as a whole.

Deborah Song is a Los Angeles-based writer and the mother of two girls. She received her master’s in journalism from New York University and writes about parenting, business and kid entrepreneurship. You can read more of her work at lemonadepost.com.

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