When a pet dies, any family undergoes some of the most challenging times ever. Our household animals are much more than just one more dog, cat, turtle, or hamster. It doesn’t matter the species. We love our pets almost as much as they love us.
Losing a loving and caring pet to death is not easy, especially at a young age. According to this study, children receive from their pets much-needed support to overcome anxiety, depression, self-esteem problems, and even loneliness.
Children may respond differently to the loss of their pets, but losing a loved one is most certainly a shocking experience for anyone.
Parents can do a lot to help their children cope with their grief, and we would like to review a couple of points with our readers to prepare everyone for these challenging situations.
Pets can pass away under different circumstances. Maybe they valiantly faced an illness that was too strong, underwent a lethal emergency, or reached the end of a full and happy life with a caring family. Here, at BrightCare, we offer the best care possible to our patients, but some situations cannot be remedied.
We have published several articles to help pet owners respond to emergencies, including advice from your vet on what to do in a dog emergency, but things don’t always go as planned. Being there for your kids is what matters the most in such difficult situations.
How to Break the News When Your Pet Dies
Without a doubt, the hardest part is first saying that your child’s pet died. There really is no easy way to do so; however, we would remind you that choosing the time and place to do it can seriously change your child’s reaction.
Try to choose a place where your child feels comfortable and safe. This is usually their bedroom, but it can change from infant to infant. It would be best if you also tried to minimize the distractions around you when you share the news.
Please avoid telling your child about their companion until they have time to process the information. Don’t tell them as they’re leaving for a class in school, but if the death happened after an emergency, you shouldn’t wait too long before sharing the news with your child.
Gauge how much information they need to know. You know your kid, how mature they are and what experiences they have so far. Your kid’s age is also another critical factor in deciding what details you will share with your kid.
Details will certainly change depending on how your pet passed away, but you should always remind your kid that you, as a family, tried your best to help your pet.
Everyone has a different grief process, so it’s crucial that you talk with your child sincerely about what happened. It is ok to use some strong words like “death” or “dying,” depending on your child’s maturity and age, or explaining what lead to your pet’s death.
Please be careful not to use euphemisms like “going to sleep,” especially if your pet’s death involved euthanization. Your kid may associate various medical procedures to this condition and death and develop an understandable aversion towards professional medical help in the future.
If your pet has been sick for some time, you could help your kid emotionally prepare for the death of their animal companions. Give them time to say goodbye, and let them be there for their pets if you consider they are emotionally mature enough to endure the process.
Let your kid guide the initial conversation with their questions, and that way, you won’t complicate the situation with unnecessary information.
Helping Your Child With Their Pet Loss Grief
Kids will feel process grief differently. These were like a close friend, and your child might feel sadness, pain, loneliness, or maybe even nothing. Everyone’s process is different, and when it comes to losing family pets, children can be as surprising as ever.
It’s imperative that you acknowledge their pain and feelings to help them through the various stages of grief. Help your kids understand that it is natural to feel the storm of emotions they are feeling and that they can count on you to talk about what bothers them when they feel like doing so.
It might also help if you can share experiences you had if you ever lost an animal companion. Help them focus on the positive memories of their animal friends, and guide their focus towards the future, heal, and move on.
Looking Ahead to Better Times and Coping With Grief
Everyone’s grief process is different, and you shouldn’t try to rush your kid to feeling better. Help them process and manage their pain and move through the various stages of grief.
When the time is right, you can talk to your kid and the family about special ways to remember your pet. It may include a funeral service or saying a prayer if your religious beliefs include such considerations. Focusing on family projects like a scrap-book or storytimes that help substitute the pain for joyful memories.
Get Veterinary Help When Your Pet Needs It
Losing our pet friends will never be easy. However, the veterinarians here at BrightCare will always try to help you avoid such situations during your pet emergencies. Consider reading our other guides on common dog emergencies to know how to react during those situations and how to avoid them.
If your dog has an emergency, contact a team of emergency caregivers and take your pet to an emergency center as soon as possible. You can check this link to get real-time directions to our veterinary emergency center and call us at (949) 716-9270 to let us know you’re coming.