How to Help to Your Child Grieve When Their Pet Dies

Losing a pet can be very hard but adults expect it when their pet gets to a certain age and we know it’s ok to be sad, even cry.  Children feel the loss in a very different way and as parents we want to protect them from sadness and may feel it’s best to buffer the sadness with euphemisms, like “he’s gone to sleep” or “she’s gone away”, leaving the child wondering when their pet will wake up or be home.

Dr. Joshua Russel from Canisius University in Buffalo has focused much of his research on children’s relationships with animals. He’s interviewed children of all different ages on how their pet died, how they felt at the time and how they’ve coped. Dr. Russell has some advice for parents to help their child grieve.