When a Pet Dies: Allowing Your Child to Grieve

pet dies

Having a pet is a great way to teach children responsibility and a love for animals. And if you’re like most people, your pet is part of the family. Unfortunately, like any living thing, a pet’s life must come to an end at some point. The death of a pet can be hard on a child, especially if they have never experienced death and have an attachment to the pet. Unfortunately, when a pet dies, it also teaches children one of the most difficult lessons in life — that nothing is permanent, and that all living things die. 

What Should I Do or Tell My Kids If a Pet Dies?

If a pet dies either through an accident or natural causes, it is important to let the child grieve their loss. There is no one right or wrong way to grieve, so it is very important that the parent talks to the child and discusses how they feel. What does your child think about their pet dying? What will they miss the most about the pet?  This is also a great time for parents to discuss how death is a part of life. Allow the child to ask questions, get mad, and cry. Let them know that their feelings are normal and valid.  

How Can I Tell If My Child Is Okay After a Pet Dies?

The grieving process will vary from child to child. Some children won’t show any sadness. Others will have a very hard time, especially if the pet has been around for a long time and grew up with the family. Some kids will lose their appetite or not want to attend their regular activities.  These are normal signs of grieving, so allow your kids to go through this healing process by showing empathy versus criticism. Normal grieving time is anywhere from weeks to months. But if a good amount of time has passed and your child’s behavior hasn’t improved or gets worse, you may want to seek mental health support to help them move forward.

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