how can you teach your children about a pet dying?
The time has come… that inevitable time, when a family member, a beloved pet, has lived its life to the fullest, been run over by a car, or has a life threatening illness. How do you tell your children? How can you help them cope with the death? Should you have a funeral for the pet? Do you talk about the pet and express feelings?
I recently watched the movie Marley and Me and thought that they did a good job of helping the children deal with the death of their beloved dog Marley. The father took Marley to the vet and Marley was put to sleep there. He brought the dog’s body back to their home and they buried him in the earth. The children were encouraged to each write something, to express their feelings to and about Marley and put it in the casket/earth. And the children’s thoughts and feelings were acknowledged and praised. The girl child drew a picture, one of the boys wrote a letter, and the other boy, oldest, just said “He knows.” Each of the children were respected and the dog was buried with dignity and love. The children’s emotions were allowed to be expressed. Sadness, grief, and loss were also modeled by the parents. The children were appropriately comforted. They each had a chance to say good-bye.
Perhaps this movie is a good one to share with children when they lose a pet. Talk about the pet. Share memories, photos, videos and allow the children to grieve in their own way, in their own time. Having a ritual such as a burial helps, allowing the grieving members of a family to come together to say good-bye to the pet in their own way.
Below are some more tips.