Pet Euthanasia: Pet loss in Children
Children form strong attachments to family pets talking to them, taking care of them, petting them and some look at family pets as siblings or playmates. So in many situations a loss of a loved pet is the first experience of loss for a child. They don’t need medical or scientific information, buy rather they need support, understanding, love, consolation and affection. Although children do grieve, they grieve differently from adults. Parents need to help their children navigate through the grieving process. It is therefore important that the parents understand the bereavement processes for themselves, for they are the model for their children.
How a child grieves, depends on their age, emotional development and the strength of the bond they had with the pet. Most children will adjust to the loss of a pet if the approach is honest simple and gentle.
Age related issues
Children at different ages or developmental stages grieve differently. One thing they have in common is that they need the support and help from their parents. Since the loss of a pet also emotionally effects parents it is important that parents fully understand the grieving process for themselves. Parents are the model for their children.
2-3 years of age
6-8 years of age
9-11 years of age
· Adolescent react to loss similarly to adults. Although their feelings can range from one day to another from hyper emotional to lack of concern. One day they want to be treated and consoled as children, and then the next they want to be treated as adults. There tends to be more conflict with parents on how to express feelings and grief.
· Loss of a family pet at this stage of life can present unique feelings and challenges and maybe particularly hard. These individuals may have grown up with their pets. Most have left home for college or are spending less time with their pets due to work, friends and school obligations. They have feelings of guilt for abandoning their pets. If the pet dies while they are away college they are unable to say goodbye or participate in family rituals associated with the loss.
Ideas on how children can memorialize their Pets
· Drawing pictures of their pet. This can be helpful to encourage children to express their grief. They can share what the picture means to them.
· Create a scrapbook of pictures and drawings. If funny pictures are included an association with happiness can be established.
What not to do
Dr. Saiki has a page on her website Lovingathomepeteuthanasia.com specifically for online pet memorials. If you would like to place a memorial for your pet on this page please contact Dr. Saiki at 408-399-5353.Dr. Saiki is a member of the Amer. Ass. of Human Animal Bond Veterinarians and understands the unique bond which forms between children and their pets. At part of her mobile vet service she offers loving in home pet euthanasias.
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14610 Acton Crt, San Jose, Ca. 95124 | 408.399.5353