How to talk to your children about the death of a pet?
A pet is a wonderful addition to the family. Kids fall in love with these animals, but nature is bittersweet, which is something kids have to come to terms with. The loss of a pet is a traumatic event, and you need to address it properly.
Allow the space to grieve
One important thing to do after the loss of a pet is to give your kid some space. This can be difficult for parents because it’s in your nature to be there for your child no matter what, but right now you need to let your children lead.
Each person processes loss differently, and that’s more than okay. If you want your children to learn how to deal with the loss of a pet, you want them to do it on their own. Just be sure you are around if they need you. Practice being available rather than forcing certain emotions. Your children know when they need your support, and they should make their way to you at that point.
When you talk to your kids about this, strike a somber tone, but always be honest without being too graphic. Let your children absorb the news, which could take some time. Your kids may be having trouble understanding their feelings, but you need to continue to give them space to grow through this.
Sometimes, parents think the best way to talk to their kids about the death of a pet is to do so in a gentle way. At times, this means a parent will try to beautify the language to describe what happened to the pet. You don’t want to do this because using euphemisms to describe the state of the pet could have negative outcomes.
For example, if you say your kid’s pet just went to sleep instead of being direct and saying the pet died, you might create a problem. This might sound nice, but your kids could become fearful of sleep because they think they’ll die just like their pet did.
If you say their pet went away, this could make your kids feel they must run away to look for the animal. You don’t want your kids doing this, so be as direct as you can even if doing so is hard. Knowing the truth will ultimately help your children now and in the future.
Be open to questions
Your children are going to have questions, and you need to be there when they’re ready to ask them. Some questions you might hear could include things like where the pet went.
Do not be afraid to express your beliefs. If you think pets go somewhere special, then it’s okay to say that as long as you’re clear about the death.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re supposed to answer every question about death. There are things about it no one really knows for sure, and it’s okay to admit that to your kids. You could tell them death is a bit of a mystery for everyone including you.
Try to involve your kids in how you’re going to honor the pet. Honoring is a normal part of the grieving process. Sometimes, this part is the most important because it helps you accept the loss and start the healing process.
Your kids need to partake in the planning. Ask your kids what they want to do to remember their beloved pet. You can tell them about some things people do, like burying the pet or creating a slideshow or movie that highlights some of the time you spent together. Some people buy custom shirts with a picture of their pet printed on it. Your kids may have other ideas as well. You could also encourage your kids to write about their feelings.
Don’t force or rush this conversation. Give your kids some time to talk about what you’re going to do for your pet.
These tips should help you talk to your children about the loss of a pet. If you feel like you need some additional help, then consider talking to a professional child therapist but only if you feel it’s necessary.