5 Ways to Help Kids Grieve After Losing a Pet

a sad puppy

Most children view pets as more than just animals: they are considered the best of friends and members of the family.

Unfortunately, just as owning a pet can cause great joy for children, losing one, whether because of an accident, sickness, or age, can cause great sadness.

Experiencing such loss can be confusing and painful for kids, and they will need lots of support to cope with their loss and grieve properly.

Here are five ways to help kids grieve after losing a pet.

One of the challenging parts of losing a pet is sharing the news with children when you're grieving yourself.

However, you must share the news carefully, as your mannerisms and words can influence how the child will react and grieve.

Also, you can provide grief support to a child by helping them cope with emotions.

Grief introduces new and unfamiliar emotions to children, which they may find difficult to understand and cope with.

As a caregiver/ parent, it's your duty to help them learn how to express themselves and manage their emotions.

Continue this overview to learn ways to help kids grieve after losing a pet: 

0.0 / 5
Stefanie Kerr, LPCC

"There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn't." - John Green

Colorado Springs, Colorado

(719) 203-7021

5.0 / 5
Kimberly Nefflen, LPCC

"Although the world is full of suffering it is also full of the overcoming of it." Helen Keller

Colorado Springs, Colorado

(719) 602-1342

5.0 / 5
Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

"Life is a balance of holding on and letting go."- Rumi

Colorado Springs, Colorado

(719) 345-2424

Share the News Carefully

Losing a pet is difficult, but breaking the bad news to others, especially children, can be taxing.

Nonetheless, sharing the news early and carefully will help kids grieve after losing a pet.

Try to have a one-on-one conversation about the death of your pets with the kids in a comfortable place.

As you would any difficult topic, gauge the amount of information your kid will understand depending on their age, maturity, and past experiences before addressing the issue.

Also, allowing your child to react in their own way is essential.

While it can be painful for you, keeping calm and collected while breaking the news is necessary, as children are likely to mimic behaviors.

Showing signs of anxiety, confusion, and disorientation will make it more difficult for your child.

Similarly, you must avoid saying words like "went to sleep" or "resting," as children tend to take words literally.

If you had to euthanize your pet, consider the child's maturity, age, and level of understanding, before giving any information.

Ensure to speak calmly and explain what happened briefly.

Be Honest

Lying about the death of a pet to protect children from grief can be tempting.

It might seem easier to lie that the pet ran away or went on a trip; however, this is not a good idea.

Loss is loss, so lying won't eradicate the pain of losing a pet; it only deprives them of the opportunity to grieve their loss.

Thus to help kids grieve wholly, you must be honest.

Younger kids might not be able to understand the concept of death fully.

Caregivers can help by discussing drying, death, and grief in the simplest terms with the child.

Again, avoid euphemisms like "sleeping " or "resting" as they can induce fear and confuse the child.

Likewise, children will likely have several questions regarding the pet's death, especially if they have not experienced loss before.

When they do, be open and honest.

They might ask about the circumstances of the death and the afterlife of the lost pet.

Do your best to explain to the child in simple, age-appropriate terms while leaving out details that may be traumatizing.

For instance, if the pet died from an accident, you do not have to discuss details with the child. 

Help Them Cope with Emotions

Children might experience many unfamiliar emotions after losing a pet.

Like anyone experiencing loss, kids can feel a wide range of emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, fear, and so on, after the death of a pet.

As a parent/caregiver, you can help kids grieve after losing a pet by helping them cope with emotions.

Assist your grieving child in understanding that it is normal to feel various emotions after dealing with loss.

You can ask your child how they feel from time to time and reassure them that their feelings are all valid.

Likewise, don't feel compelled to pretend or hide your feelings about losing a pet.

Expressing how you feel openly sets an excellent example for your kid.

Kids should know it's okay to feel sad, to share their feelings, and to cry whenever they feel like it after losing a loved one.

You can provide comfort by sharing stories of pets you had and lost at a younger age and how difficult it was to let them go. 

Grief & Loss Therapists in Colorado

Megan Brausam, LPC

Megan Brausam, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Mallory Heise, LPC, LAC

Mallory Heise, LPC, LAC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Sherry Rice, LPCC, ADDC

Sherry Rice, LPCC, ADDC

Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Mikayla Braukhoff, LPC

Mikayla Braukhoff, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Paitton Callery, LPC, ATR-P

Paitton Callery, LPC, ATR-P

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Kimberly Nefflen, LPCC

Kimberly Nefflen, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Melvin Lee, LPCC

Melvin Lee, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Deb Corbitt, LPC

Deb Corbitt, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Meghan Purcell, LPCC

Meghan Purcell, LPCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439

Always Be Available to Listen

After losing a loved one, some children may want to talk to others immediately or not.

As a caregiver/parent, you must reassure your child that they can talk to you and that you will always be available to listen.

Providing listening ears can help kids grieve after losing a pet.

When your child opens up to you about their feelings of loss, it is essential to pay attention and allow them to express themselves without interruption or judgment.

Telling a child to "let it go" or "stop bringing up the pet" can derail their grieving process and lead to unresolved grief that can cause bigger problems as they grow.

Listen actively and maintain a reassuring expression and body language so your child feels comfortable and safe sharing their feelings.

Children might stutter, repeat, or utter incoherent words, especially when overwhelmed, so be patient.

At the end of each conversation, offer hugs, pats, and forehead kisses to reassure them it's okay.

Let your child know that though their emotions are difficult now, they will surely get better as time passes. 

Honor The Memories of Your Pet

Honoring your lost pet is an expression of grief and often times it helps to facilitate healing.

Creating opportunities to memorialize and honor their lost loved one can help kids grieve after losing a pet.

For one, you can involve kids in the burying process.

You might allow them to choose whether to hold a burial service and whether to cremate or bury.

You can encourage the kids to write letters, draw or choose an item that will be buried alongside the lost pet.

Also, you can help kids make memorials for their pets in several special ways, such as planting a tree, lighting a candle, writing an obituary, creating a scrapbook of their favorite memories, or framing photos of the deceased pets.

It can also help to hold an occasional ceremony in honor of the deceased pet.

Family members can gather together to share fun memories and moments they had with the deceased pets.

This is a special way of remembering your pet and grieving with others dealing with the same loss. 

Conclusion

Saying goodbye to pets forever can be one of the most difficult experiences a child can go through.

During this challenging time, parents/caregivers need to provide adequate grief support and help kids heal from feelings of loss.

You can help kids grieve after losing a pet by sharing the news carefully, being honest, helping them cope with emotions, being available to listen, and honoring the memories of your pet. 

Resources 

×
Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

Related Posts

 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
July 13th, 2024

overcomers counseling logo

Explore local counseling and psychiatry services to find the tailored support you require. Embark on a journey towards resilience and become an Overcomer with the right professional assistance by your side!

Contact Us

5585 Erindale Dr. Ste 204
Colorado Springs, CO 80918 mailing
(719) 345-2424 office
(719) 888-5022 text
(855) 719-2549 fax

Business Hours (Provider's hours may vary)

 Sunday   Closed
 Monday   8:00am - 5:00pm
 Tuesday   8:00am - 5:00pm
 Wednesday    8:00am - 5:00pm
 Thursday   8:00am - 5:00pm
 Friday   8:00am - 5:00pm
 Saturday  Closed