How To Explain Losing a Pet to Children

Explaining the death of a loved one or even the concept of dying to a child is one of the toughest things you will ever do.  When it comes to pet loss, children often perceive in their mind that a pet will be around for as long as the child is.  How can you comfort them, and explain in a way that they understand?  This may in fact be the first encounter with death of any kind for a child, so it should be handled in the right manner. There are many considerations; in dealing with losing a pet, children of different age groups should be handled differently.  Honesty is always the best policy; you never want to make the child believe that your family pet simply wandered off, or that they “went to sleep” and didn’t wake up.  If a child is 10 or 11 years old, they often already understand that every living thing dies at some point.  Children of different ages also perceive the death of a pet differently.  For example: A very young child, perhaps 3 or 4 years old, knows that the pet is a playmate.  When the pet dies, she will most likely miss it for a time, but may not experience much sadness or trauma like an older child would.  Children who are old enough to take care of feeding or walking a pet may experience guilt feelings.  In their mind, they may believe that they did something that caused the animal to become sick or die.  This is particularly true if the child ever had thoughts such as wishing they didn’t...
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