Pet Grief for Kids, 5 Tips for How to Help Them Cope

By Holly Sosa

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. Today’s discussion on helping children to cope with pet loss is sponsored by Purina® Pro Plan®. #ProPlanPet #CollectiveBias

For those of you who have been followers of mine for awhile, you know that last summer we lost our family dog, Noelle, to a coyote attack. My son, Collin, took this tragic event the hardest as Noelle and he were inseparable friends with a special, unspoken bond that only a boy and his dog could understand. More nights than I can count, I would discover the two of them cuddling on the couch, Noelle never more content than when she was with her human and Collin happy with his faithful sidekick. When she was suddenly just absent from our lives, we had to quickly learn how to navigate the inevitable grief, trauma, and confusion Collin would have to deal with. With a little help from family members and friends, we seemed to be able to ease his grief and help him work through his feelings in a healthy way. Today, I’m sharing a few tips we learned along the way in hopes they’ll help some of you if ever faced with losing a dear pet.

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1. Allow them to talk through their feelings. Collin was four when we lost Noelle, and not quite articulate enough to dictate how he was feeling nor was he fully comprehending her loss. By allowing him to freely talk through what happened and his thought process, he didn’t feel ashamed and was able to openly grieve for his lost friend.

2. Try buying a stuffed animal in your pet’s likeness. My cousin, Debbie, sent over a stuffed animal dog that looked just like Noelle along with a book about losing a pet. The dog was helpful for him, especially during the evening when he would usually be cuddling with his beloved companion. The toy helped fill that void for him until he was ready to let go and accept that Noelle would not be returning.

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3. Be honest with your child. The old we sent Fluffy to a farm story isn’t fair to your child and it doesn’t do them any favors. A child should be allowed to work through their feelings, learn about loss, and understand the cycle of life. There are several books to help you better explain to your child what happens if you don’t think you’re equipped to break the news.

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4. Don’t immediately buy another pet. Your child should be allowed to properly grieve first before being bombarded with the excitement of a new animal in the home. Children are much more thoughtful than we realize and may even experience guilt in loving a new animal so quickly. Allow them time to work through their feelings before introducing another pet.

5. Explain the permanency of death and, if your child is up to it, hold a funeral. For my then four year old, he was often confused about when Noelle was coming home and would talk about the doctor fixing her. Sitting your child down and explaining the truth about death without scaring them (using terms like “put to sleep” or “God took him/her” can often instill fear) is helpful in them comprehending what happened to their pet. Holding a funeral can help them understand this concept and it can also give them closure.

Almost a year later, Collin still occasionally talks about and misses Noelle, but we’ve moved forward as a family and love on our dogs Merry and Dasher, whom, we adopted over Christmas after we knew Collin had fully accepted the loss of his pet. While Noelle’s loss was a sudden and tragic one, we don’t take risks with our dogs (they’re family!) and hope to ensure their health by feeding them the best. Purina® Pro Plan®, available at PetSmart, is the first dry dog food brand to use and be founded on the idea of real meat as the #1 ingredient to help promote total body health. Every high quality ingredient is chosen for a specific purpose and real chicken, beef, lamb, or salmon is the #1 ingredient found in all of their dry formulas. We consider our dogs our family and trust Purina® Pro Plan® because nutrition and the health of family dogs are their priorities.

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Visit the Purina® Pro Plan® MyPLAN website to get your dog’s MyPLAN recommendation and a rebate offer for a free bag of Purina® Pro Plan® Dry Dog Food (4-6lbs, up to $18.99.) Good only in U.S.A. A.P.O’s, F.P.O’s. Void where taxed, prohibited, restricted. Allow 6-8 weeks for shipment. LIMIT ONE REQUEST PER INDIVIDUAL, ADDRESS, or EMAIL ADDRESS. Offer expires 04/30/2015. See full terms.

What advice do you have for parents helping their child grieve the loss of a pet? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

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The post Pet Grief for Kids, 5 Tips for How to Help Them Cope appeared first on Our Holly Days.


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