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Talking to your children about the death of a beloved pet can be difficult. How much do we tell them? How truthful should we be? How much can they handle? These are questions that most parents discover they are unprepared for. We want to help you do the right thing and help you make decisions that will be healthy for you and your children long-term.
The company that makes the wonderful Clay Paw Prints that we make as a memorial to your pet, have dedicated their time and energy to offering resources to pet parents and veterinary professionals. They have a wonderful resource called Kids and grief. This page divides advice into age and stage of life. They also have some great books and ideas to help children memorialize.
The ASPCA wrote this article to help children manage grief.
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/6303646630/">h.koppdelaney</a> / <a href="http://foter.com">Foter</a> / <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">CC BY-ND</a>
Our advice to you is to be truthful with your children at a level that is appropriate to their age. When we make up stories about where their beloved pet went or lie to them about what happened, we may spare them some short-term grief, but eventually we start to break down the trust in our relationships with them. Children need to know that they can trust their parents and this is an important time for them. If you ask nearly any adult about their favorite childhood pet, you will often hear the story of their passing. This is often a defining moment in a persons life. If handled with truth, dignity, and support, the loss of a family pet can be a lesson in how to properly grieve and handle loss for the rest of a child's life. We urge you to use the resources provided to help in handling your grief first. Think of the instructions you get on a plane...Grab your oxygen mask first before you offer it to your children. Make sure you are okay and dealing with your grief before you try to determine how to help your children. Be intentional about your approach and remember, it is okay to be sad.
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