When a pet dies, how can you help your child overcome this? I remember we had a fancy rat, living as a pet at home. She was 2 years old and her name was Nony. She was a favorite of the whole family. Once my younger sister, who was 6 years old, was playing with her carelessly and, while jumping on the couch, fell on the pillows under which Nony was hiding. The trauma Nony suffered couldn’t be treated, and she died the same evening. There were no limits to the grief of my sister. She couldn’t stop crying for a few days. We all felt pity for Nony. However, my sister felt it much more intensively. In spite of being very young, she was able to understand that it was her actions which led to such a sad outcome. Her sorrow knew no boundaries. She has already grown up, yet she still remembers that incident with great sadness.
How do you deal witha child’s reaction when a pet dies? We get so attached to our pets that our emotions overwhelm us when the pets leave us. Children react to the death in different ways.
Сhild’s reaction: When a pet dies
The reaction of a child to the death of their pet depends on many factors.
The child’s age
The younger the children are, the easier it is to take their attention off of the tragic event. Children under 5-6 years old usually don’t understand death and irreversibility of the event, and that’s why it’s enough to tell them that their pet has fallen deeply asleep and will not wake up. And in order to let the pet have a good sleep, it shouldn’t be disturbed and placed into a special place. Children, who are older, recognize death more consciously. That’s why it’s better to explain to the child in simple words that any living creature in our world has its length of life. It’s simply time for the pet to go, and it will pass from one state into another. In religious families, it’s easier to explain the concept of death to a child.
The attachment of a child to a pet
If the child was too attached to your pet, be ready for a long mourning period. Children are very sensitive and once some time passes, the child will understand that his/her parrot, cat, or dog isn’t near anymore, and it’s unlikely that they will ever be there again so their distress may increase. However, it’s not for long. A wonderful protective property of the human memory is forgetfulness. It’s exactly forgetfulness that helps us overcome the bitterness of the loss.When a pet dies, a child needs some time to let their emotions cope with the negative memories about the death itself and translate into positive memories about the happy moments spent with the pet.
Understanding and experiencing the fact of death
If your child had the experience of death, for example, if some relative or a friend died, and the child suffered from that much already, then the death of a pet may cause a deep depression in the child and bring back previous anxiety. In especially difficult cases, we recommend that you consult a child psychologist to overcome this condition.
The attitude of other family members towards the incident
A child feels the attitudes of the whole family. That’s why when a pet, loved by everybody, dies, all the family members are left in a depressed condition. In order to avoid traumatizing the child’s mentality, be reserved and show an example to your child. Setting free the feelings is good for both an adult and a child, but try to do this when your child can’t see it.
In the long-term perspective, such worries may cause many fears and a lack of confidence in a child. That’s whywhen a pet dies, try to support and calm your child. Try to make thechild’s reactionless painful. Convince him/her that death is a natural process, inherent to life. Death once again showshow important life is, and how many good and useful things there are that we need to do in life in the time that we have.