Buying a pet for your child is one of the best things you can do. Pets are important for a lot of reasons. Pet care can teach your child how to be selfless. It can also teach them about death. The passing of a pet can be hard. It’s probably going to be the first loss your child will have to deal with and could hit hard. Knowing how to handle the situation will ensure you help them through. These tips should give you some ideas about what to do.
FIND A WAY TO EXPLAIN
Explaining what’s happened will be harder if your children are young. Older kids will be more involved and have a better understanding of what’s going on. Young children may not understand. It’s your job to ensure they know what’s happened. The way you reveal the death is up to you. Remember to keep use gentle language. It may be best to avoid the word death. Even so, it’s important you’re confident that your child understands. Phrases such as ‘passed away’ and ‘gone to a better place’ can make the information more digestible. Whether you believe in heaven or not, it may be worth using it here. Explaining that the pet has gone to heaven may put their mind at ease. It can be a comfort to think their beloved pet is up there somewhere.
ALLOW THEM TO GRIEVE
No matter whether the pet in question was a hamster or a dog, your child will need time to grieve. It’s important you give them the space they require. Don’t judge them for a reaction you deem too extreme. A first death is bound to be hard to cope with. Make sure your child knows that you’re there if they need to talk. Ensure you answer any questions they may have. Be delicate to how upset they’re feeling. Taking steps to cheer them up is important, but respect that they may need time alone to digest their loss.
Having a burial for the pet is important in allowing your child closure. Hold a funeral so that they can say their final goodbyes. If the pet was a big part of your family, you might not want to bury them. That’s fine. You can hold a funeral without a body. If you choose to get your pet cremated, say a few words around the urn instead. There are some beautiful options for pet urns, which could take pride of place in your home.
DECIDE WHETHER TO GET ANOTHER PET
Depending on the severity of the loss, your child may benefit from another pet. It can be hard to know when having a pet to replace the lost one is appropriate. Paying attention to your child’s behavior will help you to see when they’re ready. It may be tempting to get a replacement to heal their hurt, but you should wait until they’ve recovered. Getting a replacement too soon could mean they don’t take the time they need.
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