I’ve mentioned so many times that Toby’s (my) cat died a couple of years ago when we were on holiday, it hit him pretty hard at the time – I have videos of her flicking her little tail into his hand and letting him take some of his very first steps along with her guiding him.
For us, coping with the loss of a pet hasn’t been “easy” but we have tried to make it as easy as possible for him, and I have a few tips that I thought I could share with you.
- Don’t play it down
With Toby, it’s a big deal that his cat died – it was a big deal for me too, but as an adult I think you can kind of process things differently than you can as a child. Its so important not to play it down, don’t tell them it was “just a cat/dog/scaly animal/bird” because to them it wasn’t, it was a friend, a playmate or a confidant. Don’t down play it at all – let them be upset, even if it’s two years down the line like it is for us.
2. Keep the memory going
Toby has a cat shaped urn (stay with me, I know it sounds insane) that is Mushu the cat and he carries it everywhere, especially when he’s stressed or feeling a bit upset. When she was cremated it was a service that they offered and we never really thought that he would love the ornamental urn the way he does.
Another great thing to do is to keep pictures of your beloved pet for them, or even take it one step further and, like Toby has in the picture, go for a gorgeous blanket with a picture of your pet that they can snuggle whenever they want to. This will be coming into hospital with us when Toby has his operation and even if not into the hospital it will be in the car waiting for him so that she can snuggle up. Use the code PETS40 if you would like to order one from Snapfish like we did – this is an advertorial link.
3. Soft toy attachment
Have a think about whether or not it is worth your child having a soft toy replica of their beloved pet – there are SO many companies that offer this service, they can take a picture of your animal and create a soft toy replica, something that your child can take everywhere and love.
4. Be honest about everything
No, the pet didn’t go off to play with other pets. No, the pet won’t come back one day. The pet is, I’m sorry to say, dead and we all know that there is no coming back from that. It’s the harshest reality of the world but that’s what it is – we live, we die. Children who are told Fluffy has gone to play with other cats or that their beloved pet will be home one day or just went away don’t deal with that any better than children who are told that their pet isn’t coming back because they died – in fact they often find it harder to understand. Can you imagine being told someone you loved just up and buggered off to play with other people and now they may or may not come back? NOT helpful. Don’t be afraid to talk about death either – it really depends on the age of your child but the chances are that they will start to ask questions, so. many. questions. Answer them as best you can but don’t make it taboo.
5. Tell the teachers if it’s applicable.
It’s not uncommon for children to lose a bit of focus when a pet dies – I think it really depends on the child and how they viewed the pet. I know if anything happened to Nala, our other Siamese cat, I would need to tell Toby’s teacher who would be super understanding and give him a squeeze if he needed it. Depending on the child, don’t be afraid to give people the heads up.
Those are my tips – do you have any to add?