How to Help Your Child Overcome Their Pet's Death

The loss of a pet is a deep emotional blow for children. You should accompany your child during this process and help them deal with the situation.
How to Help Your Child Overcome Their Pet's Death

Last update: 17 November, 2020

The death of a pet is completely heartbreaking. Other than just the pain that you may feel, your concern for your child will remain when it comes to what is often their first experience with death. In this article, you will learn how to help your child overcome their pet’s death.

How to Help Your Child Overcome Their Pet’s Death

It doesn’t matter how it happened – whether it is due to a long illness or a tragic accident – the pet’s size, or how long it has lived with the family. In reality, your child’s pet’s death may be very difficult for them to understand, accept, and overcome.

Pets are part of the family. They’re playmates and partners in adventures and pranks for children. When it comes to their death, children tend to become emotionally distraught, feel abandoned, and even develop a fear of losing someone else.

Keep reading to learn how you can help your child through this difficult experience.

1. Understands your child’s love for his or her pet.

Family Dog

A pet is another family member, especially for your children.

The first step to help your child in this process is trying to understand what they’re going through. Perhaps you see to the family pet as just that: a companion animal.

However, for the vast majority of children, a pet is much more. It’s their best friend and they may even see them as a sibling.

Mourning the loss of a pet is hard, just like it is for a family member. This is because, regardless of what species it is, your child loved it as part of the family.

2. Empathize with your child.

Put yourself in their place. Try to empathize with your child and understand how you would feel in their shoes.

Pay close attention to them because this is about acceptance, not pain. The loss of a loved one hurts no matter what.

If the pet has died after a long illness, their death is probably easier to accept than if the cause of death was due to an accident. After all, when a child knows that the pet is sick, the death can be more predictable.

The unpredictability of certain situations, such as a fatal accident, can be the first time a child finds out that not everything can be controlled and this could cause them to develop a lot of fear.

3. Overcoming their pet’s death: avoid softening their reality.

In an attempt to protect your children, some parents opt to say that the pet “escaped” rather than explaining that they were in an accident and died.

Don’t do that.

Talking to your child about the death of their pet is extremely difficult. However, your child deserves to know the truth.

4. Play with your child.

Accompany your child through the mourning process by playing games with them.

Some children may even pretend that their stuffed animal gets sick and dies. This role-playing game can be powerful and healing. Take advantage of it and use it as a game for your child to understand and accept a loss in the family.

5. Read with your child to help them overcome their pet’s death.

Mother and daughter reading to overcome their pet's death

Through children’s stories, you can deal with the issue of mourning a death with your child.

There are many stories that are about the death of a family member or pet, such as Forever in Your Heart By Sumara Marletta Guimbra. Take the time to read a story about death to your child and talk about it.

6. Express your feelings in order to help them overcome their pet’s death.

Some children find it difficult to express the pain they feel. Become your child’s catalyst by allowing yourself to show them that the loss of your pet has affected you too.

Teach your child that it’s OK to be sad, that it’s normal to cry and there’s nothing wrong with missing a loved one.

7. Talk to your child.

Death usually gets children to ask an endless amount of questions. Be prepared to answer them in the most honest way possible by having them be appropriate for your child’s age.

Check out this article, too: The Benefits of Having a Pet in the Family

8. Honor the pet’s life.

Honor your pet's death

Talk with your child about the best memories of their pet in order to bring back good memories.

Don’t forget to talk about their pet. After all, talking about them and remembering the good times your family spent with them is important for your child. A small funeral can be a good way to help your child.

Saying goodbye to their pet may be what your child needs in order to feel a little better. However, this doesn’t mean that the pain will go away and they will stop missing their pet.

Another option is to make a photo album that will help your child remember their pet is planting a tree in their honor.Reflecting with your child can help them feel a bit better.

9. Don’t immediately give them another pet.

Your child needs time to process their loss and accept that their friend is no longer around.

Don’t try to fill their emptiness with a new animal. Give your child time for them to get over their loss before thinking about adopting a new pet.

10. Keep an eye on your child.

Moments of tears and sadness are normal. However, if you notice that your child has nightmares, they can’t sleep or feel a lot of anxiety, consult their pediatrician. It may be necessary for your child to receive counseling in order to help them overcome their pet’s death.

The death of a pet is often the first experience children have with death. Be patient, spend time with your child and show them how much you love them. Help them to gradually overcome their pet’s death as if it were the death of a person, because your child’s pet was their best friend.

It might interest you...
Ticks: A Real Danger to Humans and Animals
Step To Health
Read it in Step To Health
Ticks: A Real Danger to Humans and Animals

Ticks are parasites that can transmit disease to humans and animals. Do you know what to do in case you're infected by a tick? What are the symptom...

  • KidsHealth. Cuando fallece una mascota.
  • Fleming-Holland, R. A. (2008). Reflexiones sobre la Muerte: el Duelo Infantil y el Suicidio Juvenil. Psicología Iberoamericana.
  • Ledesma, R. I. G., Cabrera, A. M., & Torres, L. S. (2010). Pérdida y duelo infantil: una visión constructivista narrativa. Alternativas En Psicolog{’i}a.