April 19, 2017

A mother of two and pet lover shares six tips for helping children cope with the loss of a pet.

A few years ago, we had to make that gut-wrenching decision no pet owner wants to make for an aging family friend. Our 15-year-old-plus Akita mix, Jack, was not only a family dog but a family member. We rescued him in 2000, shortly before we moved into our house and several years before we became parents. Our girls grew up alongside Jack. He was a gentle, loving dog.

But Jack was old, sick and in pain, and we finally felt that it was best to put him down, as his body had started to shut down.

It’s heartbreaking to say goodbye to a family pet, but here are six ways you can help your child cope with the loss:

  1. Plan a special outing or meal so that your child can say their formal goodbyes in a positive setting.
  2. Sit down with your child and help them organize a photo album featuring pictures of your pet.
  3. Encourage your child to write about their pet, either in a journal or at school or even in a special goodbye letter.
  4. Consider making a donation of money or time to your local pet shelter in honor of your pet.
  5. Read a book together focusing on dealing with the loss of a pet, such as Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas.
  6. Plan a memorial service when you bring your pet’s ashes home (if you choose cremation) or a burial service.

If you have surviving pets they may also possibly grieve for their friend, so be sure to encourage your child to give their other pets extra attention in the weeks following your pet’s death.

I’ve written about our special furry kids before. The benefits of teaching your child to care for a family pet are numerous, even when it’s time to let them go.

Native Nashvillian Jamie Reeves is a mom to two girls who has been blogging since 2005 at Blonde Mom Blog.