Tips for Consoling a Child When Their Pet Passes Away

One thing that many parents fear when they get a pet for the family is what they’ll have to say when the pet passes away. Loss can be challenging to explain to kids, especially young ones, so we’ve put together some helpful tips for consoling a child when their pet passes away.

Be Honest

The first time talking about and explaining life and death with your child is a harrowing experience many parents dread. Some consider massaging the truth so that it goes down easier and eases their kid’s grief.

The best option is often to be honest and truthful with your child. Depending on their age and maturity, you might want to soften the language and phrases. Just remember that at some point, they’ll learn about these things, so it should come directly and honestly from the parent.

Pro Tip: If your child asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, it’s OK to be honest.

Encourage Communication

A child can go through many emotions when experiencing death and grief for the first time, from confusion to anger to sadness—sometimes within seconds of each other! It can feel overwhelming at first, but one of the best ways to get through this is to encourage your child to communicate and talk about their feelings.

They’re likely to have many questions, but the more you talk about it, the better their chance of understanding and processing it all. Don’t be afraid to communicate what you’re feeling—it helps kids to know that even though you understand loss, you’re sad too.

Commemorate the Pet

A commemoration or ceremony for the passed on can also be very helpful and liberating for some kids. They say funerals aren’t for those that passed but for those still living, and a simple commemoration can do a lot in giving kids closure in their first experience with death.

Many pet owners and families choose to have their pet cremated and do something with their ashes—like creating a memorial or scattering them in a sentimental location.

Be There for Them

The simplest but probably most important tip for consoling a child when their pet passes away is to just be there for them. In many cases, the exact words or phrases aren’t essential—kids are only looking for solace and comfort in the arms of a loved one.

Be patient, honest, and most importantly, be there for them as they struggle through this challenging experience we all face at some point in our lives.

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