Children & Grief:
Losing a Pet
Losing a Pet
As mentioned in the previous blog, the year 2021 my family had a great deal of loss. The first was actually our dog Twinkie in March - planned, though still difficult. Knowing how important it is to be honest with children, I let the kids know what was going to happen and prepared them for her not coming home. They were given the opportunity to say goodbye, hug her, love on her, and cry before I took her with me to the vet for her final journey. I even gave them the opportunity to come with me if they so chose to. Both declined so I went by myself, leaving them at home with my husband and our other dog. It was tough, but with the unconditional love that Twinkie gave us we were able to return to semi-normalcy soon.
The loss was more difficult for my daughter, at 5 years old, as she had had our dog her entire life. With the other loss that occurred in the Spring - she would often cry and be upset or regress in behaviors.
In August we lost my mother's dog, a little Yorkshire Terrier named Belle that I had gifted her many years ago. Her death was unexpected and sudden.
Like the loss of a family member - children need the space and time to grieve the one that they lost. Pets are often a child's first friend - aside from their parents.
If you have a pet that is getting elderly or has an illness that will lead to their death - prepare your children by letting them know the process. If their death is planned - ask the veterinarian if they allow children to come in and what their policies are, so that you can prepare your child.
If their death is unplanned, do not sugarcoat what happened to your children. Be clear - please refer to the previous blog for expected levels of understanding and behaviors to be aware of.