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Helping Children Grieve Your Pet

Helping children grieve your pet can be a difficult process for many, more so if the pet used to be around for a long time. Many parents may dismiss this matter as trivial, but here's an important insight: for a lot of children, the loss of a pet is their first encounter with death. Utmost observation and care, therefore, must be done in helping children grieve your pet.

A child's own way of grieving the loss of his pet is not the same as the next child. Remember, each compassionate pet lover, regardless of age, has his own way of expressing grief over the loss of his pet. When your children's beloved pet dies, you should be careful in making comments about losing "just an animal", or "you can always get another one". Never underestimate the level of bonding your children had with your lost pet. You might mean well for your children and you only wanted to console them, but comments like these do not sit well in helping children grieve your pet.

Bereavement counselors say that a child's capability to comprehend death and its meaning depends on cognitive age. However, a general rule applies, and that is, for all ages, honesty is the best policy in helping children grieve your pet. Counselors advise parents to use the words "death" and "dying" and gently explaining what it means. Using words such as "the pet went away" or "was put to sleep" might confuse children even more. These counselors reported incidents wherein some children who were told that their pets "went away" eagerly awaited for their return, but when was finally told that their pet actually died, these children asked their parents to unbury their pets.

Another important pointer in helping children grieve your pet is to never blame anyone, specifically veterinarians in cases of euthanasia. It can have a subliminal effect on your children, and they might end up harboring misgivings towards vets or anyone you blamed the pet's death on.

In helping children grieve your pet, it will also help if you show your own feelings, but in a rather careful manner. Children are sensitive beings that can sense the stress parents are feeling. If parents appear overly disturbed and distraught over the pet loss, children will most probably pick up the stress. However, a parent showing sadness over the loss of a beloved pet will help children feel that they are not alone in grieving.

Despite their tender age, children have a resilient quality that might surprise most parents. Despite seeming so fragile, children are actually capable of accepting new information and adapting to new situations. Support groups, either online or locally, can help parents needing more information on helping children cope with pet loss. With the right knowledge and careful explanation, helping children grieve your pet won't have to be such a difficult process.

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