Creative Child

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

by Deborah Song

The death of a beloved pet may seem like too much for your wide-eyed and bewildered child to handle. But kids are more resilient than we often give them credit for. Most kids will be able to adjust to the loss of a pet if your approach is honest, gentle and patient. It’s important to support and guide your child through the stages of grief that may involve denial, sadness, depression, guilt and anger, and provide the necessary outlets in order to reach a healthy recovery. Here are some parenting tips to help your child deal with the loss of a pet.

1. Say good-bye.

If your pet is sick and you know death is imminent, don’t conceal the pet’s condition. Prepping your child for the inevitable tragedy will give your child more time to accept it and help her develop a better understanding of the dying process. If your pet has already died (and your child is old enough), offer your child the choice to cremate the pet or have a burial service where family members can openly express their feelings, which can help her grieve.

2. Address your own grief.

When you see the grief caused by the loss of a pet grip your vulnerable child, your instinct might be to run and protect your child at the expense of neglecting yourself. But before you can help anyone, you need to help yourself first (think oxygen mask on an airplane). Grieving a pet is a process. Your child will need you to be a continued source of positive support. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to release endorphins and help boost your mood.

3. Ask for help.

Expectedly, there may be a lot going on at home. Seek outside support from family and friends, especially from those who have also experienced the loss of a pet. Tell your child’s teacher who can lend an ear at school when you’re not around. Also check out online message boards, support groups and pet loss hotlines.


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