For many children, the passing of a beloved pet is their first experience of loss and death. This can be a devastating time in anyone’s life, but it’s especially heartbreaking for a child who’s just learning about mortality and has had to face it head-on with the loss of their best friend. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can make this process easier and healthier for your child.
Break the News in a Safe Space
In some cases, you may have to have a pet put down or you may find out that your child’s pet has died while your child is in school or away at camp. In this case, it’s best to wait until you can tell your child about their pet’s death in a safe and comfortable space. Wait until you get home or at least until you can take your child aside and tell them one-on-one in a place where they won’t feel exposed or embarrassed, or where they’ll be easily distracted from listening to and absorbing the news.
It may be tempting to say that your pet went to live on a farm or that it crossed the rainbow bridge, but avoid these euphemisms. Instead, be kind but frank and honest. Explain that everyone dies eventually and that your pet has passed on to a better place where it won’t be in pain.
Let Them Know It’s Okay to Mourn
As you talk with your child about their pet’s death, be sure to let them know that you understand that they’re going to have a lot of different emotions about it and that it’s okay to feel these things. At this point, it’s okay to show your own sadness so that your child knows that you mean what you’re saying. Also, let them know that they can talk to you about how they’re feeling at any time.
Healing Through Remembrance
After the initial shock of learning that their pet has died, your child will likely feel sad or depressed about the loss. You can help them heal and move forward by helping them find joy in the memories of their pet. Frame a picture of your child and pet together. Have your pet cremated and order cremation jewelry so that you and your child can each have a pendant or charm that has a few of your pet’s ashes in it.
Finally, remember that grieving over a pet is just like grieving over a person, especially in the eyes of a child. Their dog may have been the center of their world, and it will take some time for them to fully recover. Instead of just trying to replace it with a new pet immediately, spend time remembering your pet and talking about it and all of your happy memories with it. This will help your child through the process better than anything else.
If you’ve recently lost a pet and you’re trying to help your child cope with the grieving process, take a moment to consider the options available from Johnston’s Cremation Jewelry.