In our lives, the death of a beloved pet is often our first experience with loss and death. It causes us to question for the first time what death really is, what it really means. In our children’s lives, this is a major turning point in their development and they are looking to you to see how adults deal with the loss of a pet. So how do you help your children deal with this situation?
Here are some specific ways to help the different ages and stages of children deal with the loss of a pet;
Younger Children (under six years old)
Children this young may not have had enough life experiences to truly understand what death, dying or long term illness may mean. They will sense your emotions and may be confused unless you explain why you are sad about the family dog being ill and the loss you will feel when he dies.
Be especially reassuring that you are not upset with them or anything they did as you maintain your normal schedule and feel your own grief. Young children will welcome a new pet and easily connect with it.
Older Children (Seven to Eleven Year Olds)
This age group of “tweens” knows and understands that death is permanent. This may bring up some fears and feelings of what if a parent should become ill and die.
If they do not have an avenue for sharing feelings, emotions and questions about the pet loss, they may have trouble sleeping, eating or begin wetting the bed again.
The most important thing is to talk to them, let them share their feelings, answer their questions. They need a safe place to share their emotions and figure things out. They need someone to guide them and be there for them, to help them understand. Be there to guide them, and let them know that everything is ok.
You are invited to visit http://www.deathofmypet.com for a collection of stories and photos about losing your best friend and pet. You will be glad you did.
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