A child’s first loss

By Connie Orcutt • Published: January 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

When the family pet dies, parents often bear the sad burden of telling their kids… not a fun job.

Start by making the situation as relaxed for your child as possible. Talk simply and honestly in a familiar setting. To help your child grasp the news, discuss death in age-appropriate ways.

Very young children may think death is temporary, so you might simply explain that their pet is not going to move or wake up again. Children closer to 10 years old typically realize that death is final, and the talk can be different. Being truthful and straightforward can help avoid confusion.

Replacing a pet right away is often not the best idea. For now, answer your child’s questions and respect his or her feelings. You may want to read children’s books together that discuss pet death. And make sure to let your child memorialize the pet as he or she wishes.