Talking to your kids about a deceased pet and helping them heal

The death of a cherished companion can be a tremendously heartbreaking and emotional time for your family.

As adults, our maturity and life experience allows us to cope with such heavy losses through a natural resilience and a willingness to move forward. For children, the loss of a pet can be confusing, distressing and a deeply unhappy time. The family pet is usually your child’s first best friend, but it’s also often their first true experience of loss too. We’ll explore how to go about sharing the news with your kids and how our Pets at Rest service can assist your family in this time of grief.

Breaking the news

When explaining the death of a pet to your child, be sure to sit down in a comfortable, well-lit environment and speak face-to-face. It’s a good idea to use your child’s age and maturity level as a guideline for how much information you initially share with them. For example, whether the idea of ‘death’ and ‘dying’ are comprehensible for a young child or whether these should be explained first.

“His body eventually grew old and this means his heart eventually stops beating,” is a good way to describe nature’s passing. Or, if your pet is ill and an impending loss is likely, speak with your children beforehand as this will give them a chance to spend their last days together and share a last goodbye. It’s important to let your child’s questions guide the conversation, whether it is a sudden or expected death, be honest and always use your parental intuition as only you understand your child best.

Grieving and putting your pet to rest

Kids often go through a number of emotions when they’re grieving. They might feel angry over their pet’s death, they may feel lonely and isolated, or they may also feel guilt. Guilt is a common feeling that children experience as they think back to all the times they were cross at their pet or when they didn’t care, or play with them because they were too busy. Let your child know that it’s only natural to feel this way. An important part of your child’s grieving process is understanding that their friend is now at peace. This reinforces the idea that their companion is no longer with them and it’s a vital step in allowing your child to move forward and heal. A small ceremony could be held where each family member remembers all the great times they had together.

Pets at Rest will help make your grieving process as smooth as possible too. We understand that you and your family need time to yourself, so we’ll personally collect your companion and then deliver their ashes back to you in a keepsake of your choice.

Remembering them

Following the grieving and healing process, your family will probably want to remember their beloved pet in a way that they feel best represents their personality. Children often find comfort in a photograph, or an old collar or toy that they can look at each day. It’s a reminder of all of the happy times that they had together and will help in healing your child’s heart.

Pets at Rest also have a variety of keepsakes to remember your beloved pet, including a memorial photo box with your pet’s ashes, or a personalised plaque, or an oak heart with a personal message.


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