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Creative Ways to Help Kids through a Pet Loss

Pet loss is difficult enough when you are an adult and understand the concept of death. However, grasping this concept when you are a child can be next to impossible. This has much to do with the fact that children don’t often fully understand loss of any magnitude and certainly don’t understand it where their pets are involved.

Children are often more attached to pets in a different way than are adults. They consider their pets to be friends and play companions. Therefore, when a child loses a pet, it is hard to understand and often completely devastating to a child. Understanding this will help adults to deal with children experiencing a pet loss. Here are five creative ways to help your child through the loss of a pet:

·         Allow them to talk about it: Don’t try to shove the issue under the rug, so to speak. Instead, encourage them to talk openly about what they are feeling and the emotions that they experience on a daily basis. Anytime they need to talk about what happened, encourage them to be open and honest and talk about their feelings with the people they are most comfortable with.

·         Encourage them to express themselves through other mediums (art, music, etc.): This is always a great way for children to express anything they going through - positive or negative. Allow them to do paintings or drawings; they can be about anything from what they are feeling to pictures of their lost pet. Allow them to convey whatever they need to through the use of art.

·         Don’t offer to immediately replace their pet: One of the biggest mistakes parents make in dealing with pet loss is replacing the lost pet with a new one too soon. Allow your child to process their grief and loss over their current pet and when - and only when - they are ready, and then allow them to be involved in the process of choosing a new pet.

·         Make them a scrapbook or other picture album: Because most children will want to remember their pet, make a scrapbook or photo album of the pet. Include solo photos as well as photos of the child with the pet, providing them with the means to remember all of the good times they shared with their pet.

·         Try a kid-friendly product, like a Kidoodlyrock: A Kidoodlyrock is a pet grave marker with your child’s drawing of their pet engraved onto it. This is a great way to help your child feel involved in creating their pet’s memorial, while using art to help them work through their grief. This is one of the first pet loss products geared towards children and is the perfect way to help them through such a difficult time.

These tips are designed to help children overcome the grief that accompanies pet loss. However, it should be noted that not all children react to loss the same (each age is different) and some may take more time than others to come to terms with the loss of their friend. Be sure to patient and allow them the space to grieve without rushing the process, understanding that with time, their hurt will heal.