As an adult, it is tough to navigate through loss and the grieving process. When there are children involved, it can be difficult to know the best approach to bringing up the subject and explaining what and why.
In our experience, involving children in the process is best. It is both comforting for them and us alike, and children are very adaptable. Using stories such as that the pet is on a “holiday” or has runaway can often give the impression to children that the pet may return which can extend the grieving and lead to confusion.
Kids will understandably be very upset during the loss of their beloved furfriend, however generally they cope with the situation much better than us adults! While we as adults hold on to the emotion of losing them, kids see it more as they were here and now they are not.
Ideas to include children in the process:
- Writing a letter or drawing a picture to send with their pet can help them understand that they are leaving
- Picking their photo for their memorial card or urn
- Talking about their pets favourite things
- Help choosing a spot to scatter ashes ect.
- Talking through things (especially with funny stories and lovely memories) is cathartic and we all know that kids love to talk!
As a parent you will of course know what is best for your kids and how much they can cope/understand. What works for some may be difficult for others and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
There are also many beautiful stories written specifically for kids to help them deal with the loss of their beloved pet.
If you are concerned that your child is not coping with the loss of their pet, there are places to get more information and help. Your regular GP will be able to give advice and referrals if necessary or you can call Lifeline ( 13 11 14 ), Parentline ( 1300 301 300 ) or children can call Kids helpline ( 1800 551 800 ) . For specific Pet loss counselling, we can recommend Lin Langford BC who can be contacted on 0405379398 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a printable activity sheet for children to remember their special friend.