Erin Albright, author of Sassie’s New Home, partnered with Rejuvenate Mind-Body Wellness Center to provide these recommendations to help your child(ren) with the loss of a pet.
- Be honest and gentle when telling your child that the pet has died. Saying that the pet went to sleep or ran away can be confusing and cause children to feel fearful or have hope that the pet might return.
- Express emotions. Show them it’s okay by talking about and expressing your own emotions. Kids might feel sad, mad, confused or a variety all at once. It’s normal to feel this way. Listen to them talk about their feelings and comfort them. Emotion is temporary and will eventually pass when expressed and validated.
- Reflect. Share your own memories and listen to kids tell stories about the pet. Look at photos together. Kids might want to draw pictures of or write stories about their memories of the pet.
- Memorialize. A simple ceremony where everyone shares their favorite memory and says goodbye can be healing. A collar or food dish could be kept as a keepsake.
Grief is a process and is different for everyone. It might seem that a child has accepted the death one day and then the next day they are sad and upset again. This is normal. Continue to comfort and validate their feelings.