For children, dealing with the death of a pet can be an extremely traumatic and upsetting experience. As parents, it is our role to help our children through this time.

If your child has never experienced the death of a pet or family relative, they may have difficulty with the concept of death. Some children may only be familiar with euphemisms for death, such as, passing on, going on vacation, or going to sleep, instead of hearing the words death, dead, and dying. Because of the frank and trusting nature of children, euphemisms often only confuse or mislead a child. If they are told Spot went on vacation to a beautiful place, your child may inquire after the dog as to when he is coming back, and it will only confuse and hurt Jane when she finds out that Spot will not be coming back home.

It is good for children to be familiar with the real words of death, though it may be difficult as a parents to be so blunt. It will help your children cope, and it will most likely help them when they deal with the death a loved one later on in life. Eventually, someone they know will die, and after having experienced the death of a pet, they might be able to employ some of the same coping measures as they did before.

If you find you have to put a pet to sleep through euthanasia, it is a good thing to discuss the issue with your children before it happens. Explain to them why euthanasia is an option, and ask them about their feelings and opinions on it. If you include them, they will feel that they have had a say in the situation, and they will not feel so powerless and left out. After all, it is their pet too.

Also, please understand that children have different ways of grieving than adults do. It is completely normal for a child to draw images of a dog lying under the ground, a dog in heaven with angels, or maybe even the ground with a tombstone that has the pet’s name engraved. Children are often encouraged to talk about the death of a pet, and to grieve as they choose. It is a good time to grow closer to your children, and be sure to let them know that you miss Spot too. It is important for the parents to not hide their feelings and grief from their children; this way, children will know that their parents are not insensitive, and they will feel confident that they will certainly be missed if they were to die.

Losing a family pet is always a difficult time, and sometimes it is hard to know how to act as a parent. You want to give your children space, yet you also want to let them know that you miss the pet too, and that you will always be there for them any time they are sad or upset.

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