Death of the Family Pet

Q: “Our dog is old and not likely to live much longer. How do we help our toddler understand when she is gone?”

A: The death of a pet is often young children’s first experience with death and can have a lasting impact on them. How you guide your child’s adjustment to the loss can teach him the way to face future losses of loved ones.

First, if your pet is a beloved member of your family, don’t minimize the importance of the event. Real sadness and mourning are perfectly appropriate, and permitting those feelings will help everyone adjust.

Your child is not yet old enough to understand that death is permanent, so expect questions showing an expectation that your pet will return sometime or is living somewhere else.

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