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Helping Children Grieve Your Horse

Helping children grieve your horse will actually benefit both you and your children.

Accepting the loss

When your horse dies, it's a painful loss. But, especially when kids are involved, you're going to need to deal with the loss as effectively as possible. The first step in helping children grieve your horse is accepting the loss of the animal. Accepting the loss of your horse is particularly hard when your horse dies suddenly. Often times when an animal is sick and clearly dying, families have time to accept the loss of the horse in a more timely manner because they know what's going to happen. However, a sudden death doesn't give you time for this preparation.

If your horse dies suddenly and its body is intact, you might want to let your children see the horse. Kids typically have a harder time understanding death than adults. Showing them a body can help them understand that the horse no longer exists in this world. Once you and your children have accepted the loss of the horse, you'll begin helping your children grieve your horse.

Understanding the stages

People have a tendency to act out after an animal or a person dies. Chatty people withdrawal and silent people become angry. Helping your children grieve your horse means being understanding of their mood swings. While grieving your children may feel angry or sad. A child who is usually very kind, might act out and hit a sibling. To help your child cope, explain that feeling angry is OK, but taking it out on other people is not. If your child doesn't want to talk and still feels angry, help him take his anger out in a healthy way. Let him hit a pillow, yell or run. These activities often cleanse anger. Also, remind your child that crying is OK.

Lead by example

Parents, if you're helping children grieve your horse, lead by example. Let your children see you cry or talk to them about how you're feeling. Kids feel much more secure in their emotions when they're reassured that what they're feeling is OK.

Let the memory live on

Just because your horse has passed, doesn't mean he can't live on in your heart. Ask you kids if they'd like to construct some kind of memorial in honor of your horse. Memorials can be as simple as a picture or as expansive as a Web site. It's really up to you. Make sure that the memorial is put in a place where your kids can access it when they're feeling sad. Seeing a memorial is imperative in helping children grieve your horse because it helps them understand that even though the horse is gone, a piece of him is still with them.

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