5 Ways to Help Your Grandchildren Recover from Losing a Pet
There are many ways that you can support your grandchild with pet loss. Your grandchild may look to you to help them through their feelings of grief and mourning, to help them understand that death is normal.
These five tips are the guidelines that I use with my clients when they are looking for additional support with their grandchildren. In using these five tips, you will support them in a healthy and positive way.
When it Comes to Losing a Pet, Honesty Is Important
If you are unclear about your feelings toward death in general, it will be difficult to be honest. However, it is important to tell your grandchild the truth.
It is important to tell them that their pet has not gone to sleep, run away or is living on a farm. Of course, all of this depends on the age of your grandchild.
A general rule is to be clear, honest and talk about death in simple and specific terms. I talk about this in more detail in my book Healing A Child’s Pet Loss Grief.
Carefully Allow Your Emotions of Grief to Show
As you know, full honesty is important when explaining death to your grandchild. Even still, keep in mind that since the emotions of grief may be new for your grandchild, when they observe your emotions, this experience will definitely affect them.
Help and Support Your Grandchild through Their Feelings of Grief
Your grandchild will probably have many questions, so be prepared to talk to them and explain to them what happens. The more you allow them to talk and the more you understand about grief the more supportive you will be.
Grief and Mourning are Different
Grief is an inward expression of suffering from a loss and mourning is the outward expression. It is important to allow your grandchild to outwardly express their inner grief with a pet funeral or pet memorial that they help design.
It will help them with their feelings of grief, teach them about losses in life and help them to develop into adaptable, capable and functional adults.
Be an Example for How to Move Through the Grieving Process
Since the death of your grandchild’s pet may be their first experience surrounding death and grief, understanding your own attitude and reactions is critical.
This experience gives you the opportunity to be a confidant, teacher, supporter and role model who is there for them, listens and unconditionally loves them.
Pets are so important and they can be incredible teachers for introducing death to a child. With the five tips provided, you will be able to support your grandchild in their first and future encounters with death and be the perfect role model for this life experience.
Have you ever had to help one of your grandkids to deal with losing a pet? What do you recall from your own childhood experiences with pet loss? Are there any comments that you have made or heard that may be half-true, vague or considered to be myths? Please share in the comments.
Wendy Van de Poll is a pioneering leader in the field of pet loss grief support and the human-animal bond. As a bestselling author, speaker and coach, she has passionately devoted her life to the mission of increasing the quality of life between animals and people. Wendy has run with wild wolves in Minnesota, coyotes in Massachusetts and foxes in her backyard. Please visit her website.