If you ever had to overcome the death of a pet you were very fond of, you will surely remember how bad it was at the time. Especially a pet that has been with us for a considerable time such as a dog or a cat , although it can also happen to us with a hamster or a fish.
Death is the law of life, we know that sooner or later it will come to us, even so it is difficult for us to assume it when the time comes. When a loved one leaves, it usually takes us by surprise and at first we don’t know how to react. If this happens to us as adults … we have to think that the same will happen with children but multiplied by two. For a child, the pet can develop a very important role within the family, think that when the child feels alone many times they seek comfort in them because pets do not fight, they do not punish and they do not judge. They listen to us and give us unconditional affection. They can become even the best friends of lonely children.Therefore, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of our son to understand his feelings and help him overcome the grief.
Here are some tips to support your child during the grieving process:
1. TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE TYPE OF PET
As we said before, the type of pet is important because it will determine how long it has been in the family. The affection that the child has for her is usually proportional to the years that she has been with her. There is no time to take affection for an animal that lasts at most one or two years, however one that has lived 10 years like a dog or a cat. On the other hand, the animals that are more emotionally involved with humans are the ones that will leave the most impression on us . Therefore, overcoming the death of cats and dogs are the most difficult and it will take longer to overcome the grief. Give the little one time and don’t pressure him.
2. PREPARE THE GROUND
If you suspect that your pet does not have a long time to live (perhaps due to illness or because of age he begins to have problems) it is preferable that you go paving the way. It is advisable that you talk with your child in a calm environment and in which he feels safe, with the aim that he reflects and the news does not come as a surprise, the impact will be less.
On the other hand, you have to adapt the type of language that you will use according to their age, you can use a metaphor to illustrate it and make it better understood if it is small. On the contrary, if we are talking about older children, it is preferable not to disguise reality and tell them that all living beings have a life expectancy and that of animals is usually lower than that of people. You have to be honest so they don’t suffer so they don’t suffer in the long run. For example, the lie that the dog has been left at a friend’s farm because the countryside suits him is typical. Sooner or later he will discover the truth and you will only make a future distrust you and find it more difficult to believe you, he may even hold a certain grudge against you. Even if you temporarily ease their pain, over time it is counterproductive.
3. SLAUGHTER OF THE ANIMAL
There are times when the disease of a dog or cat no longer has a solution, veterinarians give the option of euthanizing it. It’s sad but it’s better than letting him suffer. What we do next will depend on the age and maturity of the child . If he is very young, less than 8 years old, he should not be in front when the decision is made and it is better to think that he has died naturally than he has been euthanized. It is a difficult concept to understand for such a young child. If it is older, from 9 or 10 years you have to be clear with the child and explain that although the veterinarian has tried to cure the dog or cat, there was nothing that could be done and that therefore the best solution is to remove the suffering.
4. ALLOW THE CHILD TO SAY GOODBYE WITH A SYMBOLIC ACT
When a loved one dies, we say goodbye to that person with a burial, cremation, dedicating a few words, etc. If we let the child say goodbye in a similar way, we will make the duel pass more quickly because it comes to the idea before and it will also leave the child calmer, it will help him close the chapter.
5. DON’T BUY HIM A SUBSTITUTE
It will not work because it will not be the same animal, with the previous one he shared part of his life, loved him and had very good times with him. The new pet, no matter how much it looks like it, will not be the same and the only thing you will achieve is that it feels that you take it for a fool and that you want to deceive it . It may seem like a no-brainer but it doesn’t hurt to remember it.
Another pet can be a good idea once the child has overcome the duel and always making it clear that this animal is another different and individual being and that it is not intended to replace the old one.
6. GIVE HIM TIME TO GET OVER THE GRIEF
The first days your child will feel sad but it is normal and you should not worry, if you give it more importance than it has, you are not going to help him overcome the death of his furry friend. If you think that your child is an exaggeration because he has been depressed for many days, do not burden him or fight him, each one carries the loss in their own way. Nor can you treat it differently , nor can the death of the pet be an excuse for not punishing behaviors that deserve it or lifting the previous ones. The best thing is that you be with him a little more understanding and then treat him normally.
Talk to him and explain that he can talk about it whenever he wants, that you are there to listen and support him , but that does not mean that there are rules at home and that everyone has to comply with them even if they are sad.