Losing a pet is never easy. For children, the loss of a family dog can especially be devastating and confusing at the same time. They may have a lot of questions for you as they experience a wave of new emotions when they realize their best friends won’t be a part of their daily life. Whether it’s an expected or unexpected passing, there are some things you can do to help your family support each other during this time of grief.
Here are a few recommendations from Bestow’s guide on what to do after the loss of a family pet:
1. Be honest
Depending on the age of your children, it’s usually best to be upfront about your dog’s passing. For children under the age of five, you may need to explain that your dog won’t be coming back. For older children, ask them if they have any questions and do your best to explain. If your child is prepared to learn about euthanasia, it may make them feel better to know that you and a veterinarian went with the best option to bring peace to your dog. Give your child time to process and let them know that all the feelings they’re having are completely normal.
2. Allow them to grieve
Everyone experiences grief differently and the passing of a family dog is sometimes the first exposure to loss for many children. Try not to push your child to heal in a certain manner or put a time constraint on their grief. Support each other and take the opportunity to become closer during a time of sadness.
3. Celebrate their life
When you and your family feel up to it, discuss how you’d like to honor your dog’s life. It may be planting special flowers or hanging up your favorite picture somewhere in your home. Get together and discuss the best memories you shared with your dog as you find a way to memorialize your pet.
Our dogs feel exactly like members of our family so losing them isn’t something you can just simply move on from right away. However, as a pet owner, it is an inevitable ending to a lifetime of memories and happiness between you two. When it comes to helping your family cope with the loss of your dog, remember that there is no formula to make grieving easier but spending time together can bring you closer than ever before.