How To Deal With The Death Of The Family Pet

Be honest and supportive when dealing with the loss of a family pet


No one wants to think about a beloved family pet passing away, but it happens and when it does, there are some dos and don’ts to consider in how you deal with it, especially where children are involved. We’re sharing some simple but effective tips for dealing with the loss of a pet.

Be age-appropriately honest

While it may seem easier and less traumatic to tell your child something simple or even only partially true, being honest about the death of a pet is important. Not only is it an important (albeit sad) learning experience, but children deserve to know the truth. Explain that the dog or cat is now in a better place, or no longer in pain and that it’s OK to be sad or angry about it.

Be prepared to answer questions

In the event of a pet’s death your instinct might be to put up a wall or try to forget as best you can. After all, we love our pets like family and losing them is one of the harder things to handle in life. But it’s also important to be present in the days following the death of your pet, and be ready to answer questions your child may have. They will likely need ongoing guidance and you can help clear up any confusion they’re feeling.

Allow for emotional upset

No matter the circumstances, give your kids a chance to express their emotions (within reason) following the death of a pet. They are going through something new and difficult to understand so they may show anger, sadness, frustration or confusion. Give them space and let them know that everyone is sad, and that you are there to help them.

Find a way to memorialize your pet

Come together as a family to figure out a way to give your pet a proper send-off and explain to your kids that the family pet will always be with them in their hearts. Create a collage of favourite pet photos you can frame, exchange funny stories about your pet – anything that will leave a positive impression amidst the lingering sadness or confusion.

Don’t get a new pet too soon

After a pet dies, some people choose to get a new or “replacement” pet right away. While each family deals with things differently, it’s a good idea to wait a while before introducing another pet into the household. This will give the family a chance to grieve, and it will give kids a chance to really come to terms with the loss of one pet. How long you wait can vary, just don’t get a new pet so you don’t have to deal with the death of the previous pet.

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