WNY Family Magazine October 2018 - Page 55

FAMILY PET Children and Pet Loss F or most households, a pet is a close family member. Sadly, the joy of having a beloved pet partners with the heartbreak of a pet’s death, whether due to old age, illness, accident or euthanasia. The death of a family pet is often a child’s first experience with loss and grief. It can be confusing to them, as many children have a sibling-like relationship with their pet. While parents are grieving the loss of their 4-footed “child” or other companion animal, it can be challenging helping their two-footed child understand what has happened. The child likely will need support and compassion in working through a number of emotions. Grief is a process, not a solitary event. It can take many forms. Grief can last from days to months to years and exhibited in a variety of ways. Reaction to a death varies depending on a person’s age. It looks different in children than it does in adults. Children do not always cry or immediately show emotion. But this does not mean they are not deeply affected by the loss. How Your Pet Died talking to kids before the death takes place. If you have decided that it is best to have the pet euthanized, you may want to explain that:  your veterinarians have done every- thing that they can  your pet would never get better  this is the kindest way to take the pet’s pain away  the pet will die peacefully, without feeling hurt or scared When A Family Pet Dies Although the family will be going through a difficult time, a few things will make it easier:  Let any caregivers and teachers know about the pet’s death. It may help them understand any changes in your child’s behavior, attentiveness, appetite, etc.  Let children see your own sadness. This helps you and lets them know it’s ok to feel sad when you lose a loved one – pet or human. They will know they are not alone and it is very hard to say goodbye.  Don’t lie and say “Rover ran away” or “Fluffy went on a trip.” It won’t make a child feel better and can make them feel worse if they think they were to blame. When the truth comes out, now or later, your child probably will be an- gry — even if it’s years later. Whether a pet died of natural causes, suddenly or via euthanasia, the hardest part may be breaking the sad news to a child. Find somewhere they feel safe and comfortable and won’t be easily distracted. Talk with them one-on-one, giving them your full attention and time for reaction. If the pet’s death is sudden, calmly explain what has happened. As with any tough issue, try to gauge how much information a child needs to hear based continued on page 61 on their age, maturity level, and life experiences. Keep •GROOMING it simple. Be brief, •DAYCARE allowing the child •OVERNIGHT to let you know how a Training ACCOMMODATIONS Program much information Expires: 12/30/18 to convey. Let them Check us out on Facebook at ask questions to help https://facebook.com/loveyourdoginc/ guide you. 1 FREE $15 Off Euthanasia If your pet is very old or has a long illness, consider The Olde Country Barn 6989 Transit Road East Amherst, NY 14051 Call: (716)636-0440 a la carte menu item (with minimum 2 night stay) Expires: 12/30/18 October 2018 WNY Family 55