Many people do not realize how traumatic and confusing death can be on a child. Although children tend to grieve for shorter periods of time, their grief is no less intense than that of adults. Children also will comeback to the subject. Parents should show patience when dealing with a grieving child. Here are some helpful tips for a grieving child.
Give your child permission to work through their grief.
Tell their teacher /counselor about the pet’s death.
Encourage your child to talk freely about the pet.
Give plenty of hugs and reassurance.
Discuss death, dying and grief honestly
Never say things like “God took your pet,” or the pet was “put to sleep. Your child will learn to fear God will take them, their parents or their siblings. The child will become afraid of going to sleep.
Include the child in everything that is going on.
A child’s age determines the perspective of how they will view the passing of a pet.
Make a Calendar of how your child is feeling. Put 3 faces on each day. A happy face, a sad face and a neutral face. Let your child circle how they feel that day. Have your child share their feelings. You can make as many of the days you need to until your child starts to feel better.
Make a Memorial Memory. This is a special way of saying “good-bye” because the word “memory” is inside it. Give your child a blank sheet of paper with crayons. Have them draw a special memory they had with their pet. Post their memory in their room. For older children have them use words or write a poem.
Make an affirmation rosary. Give your child beads and a piece of yarn. String 3 beads that are the same color. Continue the rosary with alternating colors. It could be 3 yellow beads followed by 2 sparkly beads, than 3 red beads, etc…. At the end of the string attach a sparkly crystal to hang from the ceiling or placed by the bedside. Have your child hold the rosary and say positive affirmations for each color. For example, “I am doing okay today” 3 times or “”I will always love my pet” three times.
Buy a dog/cat puppet and place it in your child’s room. That way when your child is alone they can talk to the pet.
Contact Love on a Leash or Pet Partners therapy dogs to come to your child’s school. These dogs are trained to comfort people/children when they are sad. It does not cost any money.
As a family write a story of your pet’s life. Collect photos of your pet. Create a book on the computer or post your story online.
Plant a bush or flower when the weather gets warmer.
At the end of “The Time of My Life” by Karen Nicksich your child has an opportunity to write a letter to Dante. Have your child write a letter to Dante and ask him to deliver a letter your child has written to their dog. Send the child’s letter to email@example.com with your dog/cats name and an email address where I can talk to you. Your child will receive a special letter back.
A resource where you can find more great ideas is found at
I Miss My Pet by Katie Nurmi All the ideas mentioned in this blog were developed and illustrated by Katie Nurmi. This is a workbook for children and can be downloaded on your computer.
This blog contains useful information from the Grief Support Center.