Our children have been fortunate up to now to never have experienced the death of a close family member or human friend. When our elderly family dog passed away, our son was devastated, but seemed to grasp about our dog’s frail body giving out. Recently, a puppy we fostered for the shelter became sick and passed. This wasn’t as easy to explain.
Death and the realization we all die has made my son, who is ten, feel a myriad of emotions; very sad, in shock, angry, scared, questioning and pensive.
The unexpected death of the puppy has provided an opportunity for him to ask some deep questions and to further experience grieving.
As he struggles with this, we have answered his questions to the best of our ability and have also held a memorial we could say goodbye, allowed him to cry uninterrupted and encouraged him to talk about what he’s feeling and thinking without our judgement.
We have also encouraged him to use creative ways to express his feelings and question. We also went to a local support group for children who have lost pets so he sees first hand he’s not alone. He learned to give himself some time to work through his emotions and that they are all real and normal. He seems to feel better after all this.
Ultimately these experiences will help him prepare for inevitable loss in the future.
Check out these six dos and don’ts
(http://www.petplace.com/dogs/explaining-pet-loss-to-children-six-do-s-and-don-ts/page1.apx) for talking to kids about death and dying.
Afterschool activities and free resources from SmartTutor.
Article By Nuria Almeida
Photo By vabellon