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Talking to Children
about Pet-Loss

How to Talk to Your Kids about Pet Loss

Talking to your kids about pet loss is not an easy topic to bring up. Pet loss is an extremely painful loss and it is perfectly normal for the whole family to grief that loss. Children are no different. They often have special relationships with their pets, and they certainly feel the loss of a pet very keenly.
However, children can find it very difficult to grasp the concept of death. Moreover, they often struggle using words to describe and talk about their many feelings and emotions they may be experiencing.
We’ve outlined several strategies and activities that you can do together with your child to teach them about grief, to comfort them through their grieving process, and allow them to discover, experience, and process grief on their own time and in their own way.

Grief is a Normal and Natural Reaction to Pet Loss

The most important thing to note here is that grieving the loss of a pet is a normal and natural reaction for children who have experienced pet loss.

Just like with adults:

Grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss.
Children deserve to know the truth. The naturally know when you are hiding or withholding something from them. If you don’t tell them what is going on, they will make up their own story.
Grief takes time to fully adapt, accept, and integrate into their lives.
Grief doesn’t have a time limit! There is no magic finish line for grief.
Children can carry grief throughout their lives.
Grief is unique to children. Every relationship, every loss is a unique loss, unique to them and their experiences and should be acknowledged as such.
Everyone grieves differently, and this goes for children too. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another person. Even if the loss is similar. Even if they are in the same family.

When children are not allowed to grieve, talk about their feelings, or otherwise express what they are feeling, they will internalize and hold everything inside. They hold onto any sadness, guilt, anger, and create their own grief baggage that they will carry with them for years or the rest of their lives. Just like adults.

Remembering Your First Loss as a Child

Before we get into the different stages below, it’s helpful to take a few moments to remember and reconnect with the first loss you remember having as a child.

How old were you? Where did you live?
Did you have someone to talk to? Family? Friends?
Did you talk about your loss as a family, or did your family never discuss it or try to replace the loss?
Did you get the support you needed?
How did you memorialize your loss?
Do you still think about your loss?

If you can, close your eyes when you do this. Really picture yourself back in that time. If you didn’t have someone to talk to for support, what questions did you want to ask? What did your parents tell you? How did they handle it? Did you see your parents cry or display emotion over the loss?

Your Hangups About Talking to Children about Grief

If you have issues or you are uncomfortable talking to kids about grief, watching them cry, or suffer, or go through the grieving process, you are not alone here. Chances are, you don’t like to watch adults to through it either. But, watching a child suffer is worse, because we spend most of our time protecting them and shielding them for the horrible things that can sometimes happen in life.
If you take a few moments right now to think about it, you will probably realize that one reason you don’t want to talk about death, grief, and loss is because YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE talking about it.  This uncomfortableness and awkwardness is a social construct we impose on them throughout their lives because we are uncomfortable and awkward talking about death.
Unfortunately, there is literally nothing you can do to prevent them from grieving.  Children will grieve at one point or another in their lives. Try as you might, you cannot stop this. Grief is a part of life; it’s a part of living. Grief exists because in our lives we have to say goodbye to the things we have grown to love.
Children don’t have the hangups that adults do about grief. Kids are generally more comfortable and natural discussing death; in fact, they can often be curious about it. They will probably ask a lot of questions about death and grief. It’s us “adults” with all the issues that prevent us from talking openly about our feelings of loss.

Do you have a question not answered here?

You don’t have to be a member to ask us your questions on grief.

30-Minute

Private Counseling Session
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This short 30-minute private counseling session best suited for those that already have a good handle on their grief recovery. New grievers are recommended to the 60/90 minute sessions.

60-Minute

Private Counseling Session
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This 60-minute counseling session is your chance to really release your grief, frustrations, and work through your guilt in a private and comfortable setting.

90-Minute

Private Counseling Session
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This 90-minute private session will really give you the time to delve into whatever is on your heart and mind from week to week.

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