More WFAA Blogs
We get talked into it. They look at us with those sad little eyes and whimper, "Mommy, can I please have a goldfish". We believe them when they promise to take care of it and clean the bowl every-other day. Sane, rational people will yield to a child's plea and bring "pets" home that you would otherwise call an exterminator and evacuate the house. What's worse is that we fail to fast-forward and visualize ourselves standing in front of a toilet and offering an impromptu eulogy before sending "Goldie" to his watery grave.
Few families can escape the pain associated with the loss of a pet. Recently, I had to break the news to my children that our dear friend Buster had died. For fifteen years, I would hear his tail thump on the floor when we entered the room. For fifteen years, I would be welcomed by a sloppy kiss and presented with anything from a leaf, to a shoe, to a dead bird. For my nine-year-old, this loss was particularly hard. He had never known life without Buster. His place was at the foot of his bed and his loss was overwhelming for his little heart. He cried for days and we, as a family mourned. I am sure that a few months from now, a new puppy will enter our family. We will grow to love him and once again, cried when it is time to say goodbye.
You see, the death of a family pet is often a child's first encounter with this painful fact of life. We, as parents, have the heartbreaking responsibility of explaining this law of nature to our children. What's worse, how we handle this situation can have a life-long impact on our child's understanding of death and dying. This is not something to take lightly and there are some specific things you can do to help children manage the pain associated with the loss of a beloved pet.
1. Don't Lie
2. Memorialize your Pet
3. Tell Your Child's Teacher or other Caregivers
4. Read a Book