Telling a child a pet has died
Losing a pet can be a heartbreaking experience for the all the family. Children who may have not experienced death can find the loss of an animal especially hard.
How can you explain that a pet has died to a child?
Be honest but gentle
While the temptation to say something that will cushion the news could be there, it’s best to be honest when a pet has died. You don’t have to go into detail or share information that could be potentially traumatic. However, saying something like the pet has run away could cause confusion and make it hard for the child to move on. Every child is different and their age will of course be a factor in how and what you share with them. Once you explain the death of a pet, your child may have questions. Be there for them to talk about it and let them process the news. Know that there are people such as grief counsellors who can help in these situations as well.
If you’re looking for another way to help your child process the death of a pet, there are many books that can help. Using stories where a character has also lost a pet can help the child to feel comforted. You can read the book together and talk about it afterwards. There are many books for primary up to teens on the topic. Ask your librarian for their recommendations or visit your local book store.
Create a memorial for your pet
When your child is ready, creating a memorial
together can be a positive forward. It’s a chance for them to remember and celebrate the pet they have lost. There are many ways pet memorials can be made. You can create a photo collage, make a short video, create a piece of artwork or plant a tree in the garden. Stay involved during the process. Your child may experience times of sadness but they will feel greater comfort knowing you are there to support them through it.
For more support you can contact:
• Lifeline - 13 11 14
• GriefLine (12pm-3am) - 03 9935 7400
• Kids Helpline -1800 55 1800