It doesn’t matter who I talk to about pets, everyone will eventually recall their first pet as a child. Such a special love, a secret love, a confidant and friend no one will ever be able to rival throughout an entire lifetime.
While the relationship between a child and their pet is special and will stand the test of time in one’s heart, the death of that pet will also place a forever mark on the heart. As an adult, helping a child through this process can appear to be challenging. However, children really do death perfect. They are organic in how they handle it, and they want the truth, the permission to mourn, and the permission to ask tough questions that will need honest answers.
However, I’m a realist. I know what complicates the process is an adult first and foremost trying to deal with their own grief. Possibly the path of least resistance is to just brush off the death, fabricate an easy answer as to why the pet is no longer in the household, and to pray that no questions will be asked that start with “why.”
Again, kids are awesome with death, if we as adults will give them a chance. First of all, give them the opportunity to say good-bye. They will want the permission to cry, to share their feelings.
Also, they will dose themselves with the loss. They do an incredible job of allowing themselves to grieve, and then dosing with another feeling/emotion. They handle their emotions organically beautiful. And, when they are in their dosing mode, it doesn’t mean they are over it, or better. They are just doing what comes naturally to them.
Answer their questions honestly as well as give them the opportunity to create a ritual or their own memorialization piece. Show them you, too, have a broken heart and share your tears. As a family, you are all affected with the loss. You loved together, so mourn together.
Guest Blogger, Coleen Ellis from The Pet Loss Center. In 2004, the experience of the death of her dog, Mico, guided her in starting the nation’s first stand-alone pet’s-only funeral home. Soon, publications such as Kates-Boylston’s Pet Loss Insider deemed her the “most well known pet funeral director” and a true “pet loss pioneer.”