The death of a pet can be especially traumatic for children. Hence, it’s important that parents help the child deal with this grief effectively. Dr Sushma Mehrotra, Ph.D consulting clinical psychologist suggests ways in which you can help kids cope with the loss of a pet.
Let your child grieve the loss of a pet
Some parents try to protect a child by not being honest about the death of a pet. This can actually leave the child feeling lost and confused. It’s better to be honest about the death of a pet than to avoid the topic or to evade it. Here are a few tips that can help.
- Consider the age of the child while deciding how to communicate this news
Depending on the age of the child. If he or she can verbalise their emotions, sit down and have a talk with them about what happened in a child-friendly way. Explain that your pet was suffering, and is no more but is in a better place now. If your child cannot verbalise their emotions, use storytelling and toys to communicate the news about the death of your pet.
- Let your child work through their grief
Kids have their own way of processing and dealing with grief. Encourage your child to talk freely about missing their beloved pet, and what the pet meant to them. Comfort them with a hug and reassure them that you are there for them no matter what. This will give them the emotional security that the pet provided in their life.
- Let your child bond with another pet
It’s okay to bring another pet into your home. Explain the presence of this pet sharing that your beloved pet may have passed away but it will always live on in the beautiful memories you’ll share as a family.
Also, make it clear that this new addition to your family is not a replacement for the pet that has passed away. The pet is just a special being, who needs love and care that you believe your child and your family can provide.
- Discuss the concept of death
Avoid being vague about the death of a pet. It’s okay to say that the pet has passed away and is in a better place now.
Always be honest about the concept of death and grief, it will help your child cope better with a tragedy. Be patient, understanding and empathetic but most of all always reassure and comfort your child. Do not let them process grief alone. Encourage your child to use journaling, drawing, painting and storytelling as a way to express and deal with their grief.