Helping your child cope with loss of a pet


By AGENCY

Helping to create a small grave can be an important ritual for children to cope with the death of a pet. — dpa

The passing of a pet is terrible for the whole family. Children are hit especially hard because they often develop a strong relationship to the animal. “That’s because kids can confide in their dog or cat.

The develop a deep, tight bond because anything they need to get off their chests is received without commentary or judgment, ” animal pedagogue Christina Gruenig says. Animals accept children the way they are.

There are some strategies you can use to help your child cope with the loss of their special friend.

Allowing grief

Children often struggle to understand the animal will never come back again. Nevertheless, you should not hide your own grief from your child or try to hide the death.

Gruenig also recommends to carefully choose your words when explaining the event. “When parents for instance tell their children the animal went to sleep forever, they might develop a fear of falling asleep themselves, ” she says.

Rituals of remembrance

Gruenig says that creating a place to which children can retreat to grieve as well as rituals can help cope with the event. “This does not necessarily mean burying the animal in the garden, which is often illegal, ” Gruening says.

But together with your children, you can build a small place of remembrance, for instance a shelf with pictures of the pet and its favourite plaything or collar.

Not a replacement

When is the right time to buy a new family animal? Everyone grieves differently, and for different periods of time. That’s why you should carefully discuss the decision of getting a new pet together with your children. This can take weeks or months.

If your family has decided, together, to get a new pet, Gruenig recommends this: “It is best not to make comparisons and not treat the new cat or dog as a replacement of the animal that has passed.” – dpa

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