A pet is a family member too! It's normal when you love a pet to grieve when that "family member" dies. Many people may tend to minimize the impact this loss has had on your family. Your pet was not just as cat or a dog, they were very significant to your family and their death will have a significant impact. Give yourself and your family permission to grieve this loss.
Here are some things to help your family as they work towards healing:
Involve the whole family.
It's natural for caregivers to want to protect their child from the harshness of death. By being open, honest and loving with your child, this experience can be a chance for them to learn about both the joy and the pain that comes from caring deeply for pets or for people.
You and your family shared special times with your pet. Spend time talking about those memories.
Create a ritual.
Although others may find this foolish, having a funeral for your pet that has died can be helpful. This gives families time to acknowledge the loss, share special memories and create time to openly express emotions.
Be patient with each other.
Everyone grieves differently and everyone's emotions and feelings will vary. Remember that each person in your family is unique and they will grieve in their own unique way.
What about a new pet?
It is often tempting to want to immediately go out and get another pet. Remember that a new pet takes time and energy, which may be hard to give at this time. It also sends a message to a child that when something is lost you buy another one. In reality that is often not possible. Give your family time to heal from this loss before considering a new addition to your family.
If you would like more information about pet loss, various children's books and brochures are available at the Mourning Hope Grief Center.