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Pet Loss and Children

Many people do not realize how traumatic and confusing death can be for a child. Although children tend to grieve for shorter periods of time, their grief is no less intense than that experienced by adults. Children also tend to come back to the subject repeatedly; so patience is required when dealing with the grieving child.

Helpful Tips

  • Give the child permission to work through their grief.
  • Tell their teacher about the pet's death.
  • Encourage the child to talk freely about the pet.
  • Give the child plenty of hugs and reassurance.
  • Discuss death, dying and grief honestly and in an age appropriate way.
  • Do not say things like "God took your pet," or the pet was "put to sleep."
    The child may fear that God will take them, their parents or their siblings or the child may become afraid of going to sleep themselves.
  • Include the child in everything that is going on.
  • Explain the permanency of death, children’s books can be helpful.
  • Be aware the child may revisit the loss several times as they grow older, integrating the experience in a new way as they become more mature.


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