Growing up with a family dog brings many valuable lessons about friendship and responsibility. Even from a young age, dogs and kids can develop special bonds that will be remembered for a lifetime. Unfortunately, the inevitable loss of a pet can be devastating and also confusing to children.
For many kids, the loss of a pet is sometimes their first experience with severe loss and grief. They may have many questions about what happened, where their dog is, whether or not they’re coming back, and so on. It can be hard to support your children when you are also grieving, but it’s also essential to be there for them during this tough time. Although everyone grieves differently, there are a few ways to help your family cope with the loss of a pet.
Be open with your kids
Whether your dog’s passing is expected or unexpected, have an open discussion with your children about what happened. Explain that death is natural and, if old enough, educate your children on euthanasia, letting them know that your pet is at peace now. Allow them to ask questions, lead the conversation, and feel whatever emotions they’re experiencing.
Be there for each other
Grief can be devastating, but it’s also an opportunity to come together during a tough time. Remember that there’s no timeline for grieving and what makes you feel better may not work for your children. Check-in often and let your children’s teachers know about the circumstances if needed.
Celebrate your pet
It may take time, but when you and your family come to a stable place in your healing process, take time to memorialize your pet. It can be as simple as walking their favorite neighborhood route and chatting about your favorite memories. You can also frame your favorite picture in your home or plant flowers in their honor. Whatever it is, spending time together and celebrating the wonderful life your pet lived can help everyone feel better.