How to Explain Pet Loss to Children
Pets have a different life expectancy than humans. Depending on the pet you choose, it may outlive your children. Learn how to go about explaining the loss of a pet to your kids.
Death is a hard issue to deal with and explain, especially to kids. But, their first experience with death often begins with their pets. Even though your pet is okay now, learning how to deal with death is not a bad idea.
Kids mature at different ages. They may not always understand the concept of death. Here are a few tips to help you prepare what to say to them.
* Be honest – Kids can see through a lie. Worse, lying can cause them to misunderstand the concept of death. This will create a bigger problem later. Use terms that they can understand but tell the truth.
* Explain what happened – Younger kids might be satisfied with the answer that kitty was sick and is no longer with us. Older kids might need a bit more of the story. Tell them that animals have a different life cycle and die from certain illnesses or accidents. This type of explanation prevents kids from transferring what happened to their pet into a scenario involving their parents or siblings.
* Visit the vet – Being a professional, they may be able to help you and your child with the explanation of your pet’s death. If the pet was put to sleep at the vet, allowing them to see the pet one last time could also help them understand what has happened.
* Hold a burial service – A burial helps to put closure on the subject. Children may even want to help place the pet in a small wooden box or sheet and dig the hole. Let them say words concerning what they loved about their pet. Join in as well to make the service complete.
* Discuss the events – Some kids will be sad afterwards. When they want to talk, be ready to listen. It could help your child to cope and recover from the trauma of losing their favorite friend.
* Put on your game face – Many younger kids enjoy time with their pets but have not learned to be attached through love. They might pick up that something is seriously wrong from the way that you are handling the loss. Keep your spirits high so they will not be saddened.
* Prepare for some repercussions – Depending on how long you have had the pet, kids can suffer grief. This can manifest as poor grades in school, acting out at home and crying. Encourage them to vent their feelings.
Losing a pet can be devastating for everyone in the family. The first experience of loss for kids is often through the loss of a pet. Learn how to explain what has happened in a positive way.