How to help young children cope with the death of a pet dog | TeamDogs
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How to help young children cope with the death of a pet dog

Losing a beloved family pet can be a terrible challenge

A dog is the cherished part of a family and dealing with them dying can be incredibly difficult. 

It might be hard for those who have never owned a dog or a pet to understand but it is such a heartbreaking challenge - especially for those who have young children. 

Founder of Living with Pet Bereavement, Dawn Murray, has some guidance which might help those going struggling to cope with the recent death of a beloved dog. 

'It certainly does affect people very very deeply'

Explaining how the death of a pet can affect people differently, Dawn said: "With pet bereavement, it comes under the banner of disenfranchised grief so it’s not everybody who’s going to get it, it’s not everybody who’s going to understand it and that’s fine, that's just one of those things in life.

"But it certainly does affect people very very deeply."

For young children, the death of a pet is likely going to be one of the first times they have to deal with bereavement so Dawn explained how it can be a valuable lesson for them.

She said: "If children experience it, first and foremost with a family pet, it tends to be their first experience of death and loss and obviously to children it can be quite a profound loss.

"It’s certainly a relatively good way, if there is such a thing, to be introduced to that type of loss as they go forward into adulthood. They will always remember what happened when their pet died."

Dawn's segment on the show also addressed how to help children deal with the loss of a pet, especially younger children.

She said: "The best advice is be honest with children, they’re far more resilient than what we give them credit for. Don’t make up stories and don’t use euphemisms, and try and explain to them the lifespan pets have in comparison to humans."

And something we all know is synonymous with children is their inquisitive minds - why is a word we're sure all parents have heard from their children on numerous occasions.

"Be ready because children are very inquisitive and will ask lots and lots of questions, often over and over and over again which can be quite upsetting for parents but it’s just a child trying to work out in their mind what is actually going on," said Dawn.

"Of course we can hold back some specific details if we don’t think they’re appropriate but they will ask a lot of questions...be prepared but be honest with children," she continued.

'Many a good funeral service has been held in the back garden'

On the subject of holding a doggy funeral, is this a good idea? Can it help deal with grief?

Dawn said: "I think it’s actually really really important, have some sort of funeral if you like, especially for a family pet."

She also advised how holding a service and burying your pet in the garden can be a great way of helping children come to terms with the loss.

She said: "If they’re taken into consideration they’ll feel respected and within the family. They want to be part of that and that makes them feel responsible.

"It’s all part of caring for a pet and the end result, many a good funeral service has been held in the back garden for a much loved family pet. But that aspect, the aftercare aspect, is very important as well."

The first part of the grieving process is breaking the news to your child. Here's how to tell them their beloved dog has died.