DEALING WITH GRIEF
For many children, the loss of a pet is their first experience with death, so helping your child to prepare for a pet’s death and helping them cope with their feelings are important. While children experience grief differently than adults, they do grieve. They need support, honesty and guidance to understand and mourn their loss and to find ways to remember and memorialise their deceased pet.
How the child will respond to the death of their pet will depend upon the strength of the bond with their pet, the child’s age and developmental maturity stage. For children of all ages and stages, honesty is the best policy, which also means using the words death and dying and explaining the permanence of death.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FAMILY HEALING
Children & Pet Loss
· Encourage younger children to express their grief by drawing pictures of their pet and sharing what the pictures mean to them. Always listen to what they have to say.
· Make a scrapbook or log with photos, as well as drawn pictures of the pet and other family members. Write memories beneath or beside them.
Funny memories should be included which will develop happy memories every time the book is opened.
· If a pet has been cremated, a special place can be arranged in the home for the urn, as well as a few pictures and mementos of the pet. Some
people keep those things somewhere in the family area.
· Wherever you choose, make sure that the children can participate in the decision-making process.
· If a pet is to be buried, wrap the body in a blanket or place in a casket. To help with the healing process, include all the family members with the burial service.
· Plant a living memorial, such as a tree or bush or make a flower bed in memory of a pet.
· Make a memorial donation to a favourite charity or local animal shelter