When you add a pet to your family, they become a big part of family life. They’re not just ‘the dog’ or ‘the cat’; they become an important part of the family. That’s why, when a pet passes away, it can be completely and utterly devastating.
Of course, not everyone understands the deep and meaningful bond between pets and their owners. But that doesn't mean that you should feel embarrassed or upset by your grief. If your pet played an important role in yours’ and your children’s lives, then it’s natural for you to all feel sad that they’ve passed away.
Whether it was expected or not, that doesn’t make a difference. No matter what the circumstances of their death, you’re entitled to grieve for them. Losing a pet can be heartbreaking, but it’s important to learn how to manage your grief and help your kids to cope with their pain in healthy ways.
Understand that it’s okay to express your grief
Don’t let anyone else tell you or your kids how you should be feeling. Because the truth is that everyone grieves differently. While some people will grieve for a day or so and then move on, others of us need to grieve for longer. The grieving process isn’t one that can be rushed; you can’t make yourself of your kids feel better. However you children feel, encourage them to let their emotions out. Never tell them off for crying or getting upset about their pet, offer them whatever support they need.
Be open and honest with your little ones
When it comes to death, a lot of parents skirt about the topic with their children, not wanting to upset them. However, it’s important to be open and honest with your children as much as possible. That doesn’t mean giving them a detailed explanation of what happened; it just means being as honest as is age appropriate. Encourage your little ones to ask any questions that they might have. If they ask something that you don’t know the answer to, be honest and tell them that you don’t know but that you will find out.
Hold a funeral for your pet
One of the most important things when it comes to death is getting closure. To do this, it could be worth having some kind of funeral or service to say goodbye to your pets. This can be a little burial service if you’re burying them in the garden. Or, if you’ve had your dog cremated and have an urn for your dog's ashes, perhaps you could let each family member say something about your pet, before placing their ashes somewhere.
Remember that it’s okay to move on
Once you and your family have grieved for your pet and have started to feel happier again, it’s okay to move on. If you’re a family that’s always had a dog, for instance, it’s fine to get another pooch. Remember, adding a new pooch to your family doesn’t mean that you’re replacing your old pet, it simply means that you’re moving on. Never feel guilty about getting another pet because they will never replace your lost pooch or pussy cat.
Losing a pet can be hard to cope with. However, it’s important to find ways to manage your grief in a healthy way and to move on.