The death of a pet can be just as traumatic for children as the death of a human.
However, there are ways to help your kids cope with this loss and remember their beloved pet. You might keep photos or even pet canvas portraits of them around the house so they have something to remind them every day, or you could get another pet that will bring some happiness back into their lives.
Breaking the News
When you first notice that your pet is sick, it's inevitable to worry. But there are ways to help your kids understand what's going on and prepare them for the death of their beloved friend.
Start talking to them about animals dying when they're young. If you have an unusual animal like a snake or another reptile, make sure they know that this type of creature might not live as long as other pets due to its life cycle. This will lessen the shock factor when they find out something bad happened to their best friend (no one wants surprises).
Keep in mind that children need time to comprehend things-don't expect an explanation right away but let them ask questions until they feel satisfied with the answers.
Prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario. If your kids are young and it's likely they don't understand what's going on, let yourself become emotional when telling them about their pet-they might pick up on the sadness and be sad themselves.
Keep your Kids Involved in the Goodbye Process
If you're planning on burying or cremating your pet, explain to them what will happen and why it has to be done. Let them become familiar with the idea until they understand it's not cruel-they should know that this is necessary for you too. You will need to explore different pet cremation urns, maybe do it together with them. If you're having a burial ceremony at home, let them pick out their favorite blanket (or other items) to cover him/her up with while he/she rests in peace.
Holding On To Memories
Save photos of them together-, keep special articles like his collar or her favorite chew toy, make paintings using crayons or pastels if you have an artistic side…whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.
Start talking about them often to your little ones, so they never forget him or her. If you have any funny stories about their life together that will make you laugh every time you hear them, don't be afraid-they'll want to hear them too! Remember that some people would rather erase memories of lost loved ones than risk upsetting themselves.
Help Them Look Ahead
It's up to you if you want to get another pet as soon as possible or wait until your kids are ready for it. If you decide they're not emotionally prepared yet, prepare them for this. Don't forget that they might be afraid of losing another friend and make sure they understand there is no harm in asking questions and expressing their feelings (you will need to give them some time for this).
No matter how old your kids are, there's always a way to help them through the loss of a childhood friend-just remember they'll never stop loving him/her, so love him/her back with all your heart. Make memories together of great times during happier moments-it won't feel sad at all!
Explain that Euthanization is a Humane End for an Animal
When your pet becomes very ill or too old to live normally, it might be hard for you to make the decision to euthanize him/her. But if you are sure this is what's best for your animal, make sure your kids understand this isn't cruel-it's actually better than letting them suffer even more or getting seriously injured during their last days.
Make them familiar with the term itself and how it works. The etymology of this word comes from Greek roots "eu" ("good") and "thanatos" ("death"), so there should be no doubt that it means the end of suffering by giving them a quick, painless death. This process will be done by professionals who are trained to do this sensitively, with your pet's best interest at heart.
It is important to keep the memory of your late family pet alive for your children. One way you can do this is by telling stories about him or her often and keeping their remains in a pet urn. Another option might be getting another animal-they may not be exactly like the one they lost, but it will give them some happiness and a new friend. However, if all else fails, make sure that euthanization isn't taken lightly because it's better than letting an old or sickly animal suffer any more pain before dying naturally.