A Note About Pets

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Pets represent some of the most faithful relationships we humans have in our lifetime. Whether a dog, a cat, or other special animal, it is hard to put to words just how we feel when we say goodbye to our furry loved one. Tears come, and despite the relief that many feel when a pet’s suffering comes to an end, our need to mourn the loss of our pet remains.

When a child is faced with the loss of an animal companion, it’s possible for you to help them through this most difficult and heart-breaking time. But first – a few words of caution:

Most experts agree that children younger than about 7 or 8 have a hard time understanding that death is a permanent, non-reversible event.

Resist the temptation to discuss what happens to a pet after death, since different religious perspectives offer myriad views.

Take your time finding a new pet for your family. It will not be quite as easy to replace all of the losses your family will encounter as quickly. Use this time of separation as a valuable teachable experience.

A few suggestions in creating an opportunity to say goodbye, from our Anderson-McQueen professionals:

  • Begin by asking your child what he or she thinks happened to the family pet. They may know more than you think – and by allowing them to say what she believes, in her own words, you can better prepare your response.
  • Always avoid using terminology that is unclear – like “has gone to heaven, or he has gone to sleep.” Those are very confusing to a younger child.
  • Explain that your family was lucky to have such a great pet, and the animal companion was equally lucky to have a family to care for him or her.
  • Once you have the urn containing your pet’s cremated remains, you may want to consider burying the urn at your home.
  • If the child is young, ask them if he or she would like to help say goodbye, by coloring a picture from memory of her favorite time with the pet. Even older children may enjoy this act of love.
  • Allow them to choose a site for the burial of the urn, or if the urn is to be kept – ask him or her where it should be kept in your home. Don’t be too alarmed if, for a while, the urn has a very prevalent place in your home. After a while, the pain of separation will subside for everyone in your household – and the time and place will ideally present itself for a final goodbye of your beloved companion’s cremated remains, in a perfect location.

If we can be of any assistance to you and your family during a similar grieving experience, please call or email us.

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