Getting a pet for your child is not a small thing. It is something that you should put a lot of thought and consideration into. One of the concerns of parents is what to do if (or rather when) the pet dies. Sooner or later, any pet will pass away, and it is your responsibility as a parent to help your child deal with that. It’s not like you do not have enough concerns, right? Still, you do have face this issue sooner or later, and it is best that you are prepared to do so way before you have to face it.
What can you do to help your child deal with the loss of a pet? Here are some good ideas. They may not take away the difficulty altogether, but they will definitely help all the parties involved.
Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes
As with most things in life, it is always good to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are dealing with. You may be decades older than your child, but for sure, you can relate to what he or she is going through. You may have lost a pet when you were younger, and going back to those times to identify the feelings will help. You may even be feeling the loss as an adult! In wearing your child’s shoes, you just might be able to think of better ways to help your child cope with the death of his or her pet.
Keep it real
This point is open to debate, as some parents prefer not to teach their children the concept of death at an early age. I am a firm believer in keeping things real, however, and I would prefer my child to understand that death is a natural thing. Living things pass away at one point or another, and it is better for the child to understand that the pet will not come back.
Hold a special memorial for the lost friend
So you’ve discussed death as being part of life. Don’t stop there, though. As part of the whole learning about death experience, it is a good idea to hold a memorial. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. The important thing is that you take this step as a way of saying your final farewells.
While it is important to acknowledge that something terrible has happened – the loss of the pet – it is also important to stick to your routine. Your child is already suffering, and altering your routine significantly might make things worse. Try to do things as you usually would in order to give your child a sense of normalcy.
Be open to discussion – even long after the pet has gone
You will have to be ready to discuss what has happened days – even weeks, maybe months – after the pet has died. This is also normal. Your child will definitely be missing his or her pet, especially if it had been with you for a while. You ought to be open to talking about your child’s feelings and memories related to the pet and its loss.
Consider getting a new pet
They say that you never really get over the loss of something until you find another thing to replace it. Again, this is a debatable issue as some people take the stand that trying to replace something is a way of escaping reality. Personally, I think that as long as the loss has been dealt with properly, getting another pet is not escapism. Instead, it is a way of moving on, of acknowledging that life does go on and that the world does not have to end just because a pet has died. For tips of choosing a pet for your child, you can read our other articles.
Dealing with death is a difficult thing. I like the idea of being open and honest with your children though. In my opinion, that is the best way to go.
I agree. Holding memorials for your pet is one way of letting go. It really does help everyone – parents and children alike.
Thanks, guys. I know we’ve probably all experienced this before. It is always hard, but there is always something that we can do.
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