The death of a pet can be one of the most difficult things to deal with, especially for your children.
Whether your dog has been part of the family for several years or your cat has only just celebrated his first birthday, it can be hard on the whole family to say goodbye. It is normal to feel sad for days, weeks and even years after the passing of your beloved animal. It is also normal to feel lost and upset, especially when you do things, like go for walks that used to involve your pet.
Many pet owners treat their pet as part of the family. This is why it is important that you mourn the loss of your fur baby in a way that feels comfortable to you and provides your family with a proper way to say goodbye. Below are some tips on dealing with this difficult time in all of your lives.
1. Spend Time with Your Family
Taking a day off work the day after your pet passes may not be something that you can do, especially if you don’t have a lot of sick days saved up. However, it can help your family cope and provide a happy change of pace on an otherwise sad situation. Let your children cry, cuddle and spend time as a family remembering your special pet.
2. Teach Your Children About Death
Death is a part of life but for a young child, this can be hard to understand. When a pet dies, try to explain to him what has happened in a way that best works for your beliefs. You may wish to focus on heaven and how your pet is now watching over you or you may prefer to explain to them about reincarnation. Look for books that talk about death to read during the day to help them understand. Psychologists also warn about the detrimental effects of telling your children that your pet ‘went to sleep and didn’t wake up’ or needed to be ‘put to sleep’, as this can cause fear in your child regarding going to sleep themselves.
3. Cherish the Memories
Choose an activity that you can do as a family to commemorate the life of your pet. You may wish to go through the photo album and make a large collage of your animal. You may wish to all write a special poem or make a card to give to your pet during the funeral. You may wish to buy a special photo frame to place in each of the kids’ room and choose a photo of your pet for each child to keep by their pet.
4. Say Goodbye
Although it may sound silly to put a memorial service on for your pet, but this is often the best way to say goodbye, especially for children. There are several companies that offer pet funerals and pet cremation. You may wish to bury your pet in your backyard and have a personal memorial service. Or, you may wish to take their ashes and spread them somewhere special, such as the beach, as a family.
5. Get a New Pet
It may take several years for you to decide you are ready for another pet again, or you may never be able choose another pet to replace your old one. But what you may consider is buying a stuffed animal for your children for the time being. Buying them each their own pet toy puppy may help them come to terms with the loss. However, some children may get upset at the idea of ‘replacing’ their pet and thus always ask them what they want when dealing with such a difficult matter. Let their emotions guide you through this tough time.
Have you had to deal with the passing of your family pet? How did you help your kids cope?