Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet: Ways to Support your Family.

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Today we feel a void in our house as our beautiful rescue dog Rosie passed away yesterday.

We knew the day would come when we’d have to ring the Vet as she was diagnosed with Cancer just after Christmas but nothing quite prepares you for the grief of letting go.

I rescued Rosie when she was 5 after a bad start in Ireland & she grew in confidence in the 8 years of being surrounded by love, treats, daily walks & lots of throwing the ball for her in the garden.

She loved sitting outside for hours in the fresh air at the gate, barking at passers by or wagging her tail.

She was gentle, loyal & loved.

For many children their first real experience with loss happens when a pet dies.

When a well loved pet dies, children need consolation, love, support and affection more than complicated medical explanations. They need to have their feelings understood and validated.

Their reactions will depend on their age and stage of maturity but it isn’t until the age of 9 years that children fully understand that death is permanent and final.

There are many ways you can tell your child that a pet has died from using a soothing voice or finding a comfortable and familiar place to tell them but the most important thing is to be honest. Trying to protect them with vague and inaccurate explanations can create more anxiety, confusion and mistrust.

Children often have questions like: Why did my pet die? Is it my fault? Where does my pet’s body go to? Will I ever see my pet again? If I wish hard enough and am really good can I make my pet come back? Does death last forever?

It is important to answer such questions simply, but honestly. Your child may experience sadness, anger, fear, denial, and guilt when their pet dies or they may suddenly become jealous of friends who have pets.

Let your child know it’s perfectly normal to miss their pet after they die and encourage them to come to you with questions or for reassurance and comfort whenever they feel sad or overwhelmed.

Here’s an article I wrote about Coping With Bereavement With Children that I hope will support your family through the sadness of loss.

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