Many children have a stronger bond with their pet than their siblings and, especially in tough times, are highly likely to turn to their pets for support even more so than human members of their family.
Children express their grief differently, dependent on their developmental stage thehousevet.co.uk/general-developmental-stages-and-grief
To help guide your child through the loss of their companion:
Talk about feelings. Recognise your child’s emotion (or your own), name it and validate their experience. Be open and honest. Use concrete, clear, simple but gentle language. Let them know it is normal to feel sad or angry or whichever emotion they may be experiencing and make the link between physical and emotional feelings. Explain how you are feeling and encourage your child to express their grief. Give your child the words they need to talk about their feelings. Children often lack the vocabulary to describe their feelings- naming feelings is the first step in helping them to cope and talk about those feelings, allowing for more adaptive coping and less explosive uncontrolled emotion.
Involve your child in appropriate steps of the process if they would like to be. Include them in family discussions:
Ahead of our visit would they like to create a scrapbook and tell the life story of their pet? Take photos with (and of)? Help the family create a bucket list for their pet?
On the day perhaps your child could help to do a paw print of their pet, take part in a bubble release, write a poem or letter to read? Or pick some flowers, draw a picture, choose a photograph, favourite toy or blanket to place with their pet after they have passed?
Make use of ‘social stories’ to better help your child understand concepts and social norms, for example tes.com/teaching-resource/my-pet-died-social-story-12265056
Please find below some resources which we hope will be of help in guiding your child through the loss of their pet.
WEBSITES AND BLOGS
Facebook & Instagram: MN Pets
Healing your Grieving Heart for Teens-Alan Wolfelt