You just scheduled your appointment with ThriveMD when you got a call from the veterinarian. They informed you that your beloved pet has a terminal illness that only gives them a few days left to live. This is a phone call none of us want to get, but it’s one in which most of us have experienced.
While you might have lost a pet before, you’re worried about how your children will handle it. Here is some advice on how to help your children grieve after losing a pet.
Allow Them to Feel It
One of the most important things you can do for your child after losing a pet is to allow them to feel their sadness. This means you don’t tell them that it’s okay and not to be sad. Instead, hold their hand and let them know you’re with them. Express that it’s normal to feel sadness when they lose something they love.
Allowing your children to feel the grief means they won’t learn to suppress their feelings. Encourage them to see where they feel it in their body. Let them know it’s okay to cry and be sad during this time. In turn, this is offering them a safe space to grieve naturally. They can use this gift throughout their lives, instead of running from their feelings.
Explain The Beauty of Impermanence
Depending on your child’s age, try and explain the impermanence of life. Teach them to appreciate what’s right in front of them and to be okay that it might not always be there. You can show them this in simple ways, like a flower that blooms then dies eventually. It doesn’t mean that the flower is gone or suffered. Instead, it took its natural cycle of life.
When a child loses a pet, it might be hard for them to understand why. By explaining the natural process of birth and death, you teach them that there’s nothing to fear. Instead, it helps them to understand and love each moment they have with people and pets in their lives.
Consider Fostering a Pet
You might be wondering if you should immediately get another pet after one passes away. While there is no right answer to this, you could consider fostering a pet first. This allows your child to see that you aren’t replacing the beloved furry friend, but you are helping with a new life.
Fostering a pet can also help to bring in a new dog or cat to help your child move on from the grief they’re feeling. Instead of forgetting their lost pet, they’re focusing on a new life. They are both appreciating the life they knew from their old pup and appreciating the new life from the foster pet.
Spend Quality Time with Them
If this is your child’s first experience with loss, it’s more important than ever to spend quality time with them. This is a pivotal moment in any child’s life, and you want them to know that you’re there for them. You want to remind them that there’s still happiness and light in the world around them.
Consider taking your child out for a day of fun. Bring out the life that’s in them. This offers your child a safe, nurturing space to know that they can still enjoy life even without their pet. It helps them to get back in touch with their reality, and in turn – this helps them to move on.