Our pets become a big part of our lives, and unfortunately their lifespan is only a fraction of a human lifespan, making pet loss a reality for almost all pet owners.
For children, the death of a pet is often times their first encounter with death. Explaining a pets death in a clear respectful manner can go a long way in lessoning the stress and anxiety that your children feel during this sad and confusing time in their life.
What to tell your child after a pet death has occurred:
As you would with any tough issue, try to gauge how much information kids need to hear based on their age, maturity level, and life experience.
Young children aren’t developmentally ready to understand death the same way that adults do and they have a way of creating scenarios in which they are at fault.
Tell them what happened, and then see how they react. Be sure to avoid any details that would traumatize them or create a horrible picture in their mind. Make it seem as peaceful as possible.
Parents often times use phrases such as “went to sleep” or “passed away” to describe death. For a young child, words like these may end up creating confusion or even extreme fear about going to bed at night.
If asked what happens to the pet after it dies, draw on your own understanding of death, including, if relevant, the viewpoint of your faith.
Helping kids to find special ways to remember a pet, such as writing a prayer together or creating a scrapbook, can help them find closure and move on.
For more information about pet death or for animal euthanasia services in the Northeast Ohio area contact Stow Kent Animal Hospital.