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How to announce to a child the death of his pet?


Telling your child that his pet has died is an event that parents dread. How to proceed ? How can you help your child deal with grief and mourn? Our answers.

Charlie the rabbit, Abricot the hamster, Saphir the cat or Ulysse the dog have just died.

This is a complicated event for children, regardless of the pet.

The loss of their friend, their confidant, is brutal news that parents must announce.

The disappearance of a pet is a special moment for the child because it is often the first time that he is confronted with the death of a loved one.

He had a hard time conceptualizing it.

How to find the words that soothe, without denying the reality of this death?

How to announce and explain to a child the death of his pet?

Tell the truth in simple words

It's important to tell your child the truth in simple words, without going into sordid details.

Use specific words that will answer their questions.

Tell him that his pet is dead, that he won't see him again, that he won't be able to play with him, cuddle him, talk to him.

Above all, do not lie to him, or deny the reality of the disappearance, because your child will quickly discover that his animal has disappeared.

He might resent you later.

In her podcast “

Bringing the Worst to Children

,” Caroline Goldman, a child and adolescent psychologist, recommends breaking the news of a loved one leaving with a sweet smile, which will have a soothing effect on the child.


If Mom and Dad smile, it's because nothing serious has happened


What to say to the child, depending on the circumstances of the death:

  • In the case of a natural death:

Explain to your child that his animal died, that he was old and that his heart stopped.

You can tell him about the cycle of life, that death is a natural process.

You can also mention that pets live shorter than human beings.

Reassure him that they shared good times together and that his friend had a good life.

  • In the case of an illness:

Tell your child that his dog or his cat was sick and that he is no longer in pain, that it is a relief, a deliverance.

Read alsoDog: 5 symptoms to take seriously

  • In the event of an accident:

The child will want to find out the circumstances of the death, explain the context to him.

If he wishes to know, tell him where the body of his faithful companion was found and the person who discovered it.

  • In the case of euthanasia:

It is important to explain to him that the purpose of this intervention is to free the sick animal from its suffering.

Reassure him by explaining that the liquid that the veterinarian injects him will make his dear friend's heart stop beating but that he will not feel anything.

Depending on the age of the child, and if he so requests, he may be present at the time of euthanasia.

To know

The child does not have the same perception of death according to the ages.

The shock of the news of the disappearance of his pet will therefore not be experienced in the same way.

Before the age of 5, a child has difficulty understanding death and its permanent nature.

Between 6-8 years old, he begins to have a perception of death (we no longer move, no longer breathe).

But it is from the age of 9 that he understands that death is irreversible, that it is part of the cycle of life.

Choose the right time

Break the news to your child at an appropriate time, calm when available and ready to pay attention.

Don't interrupt him in his game.

Expressions not to use

Certain words or expressions are to be banned when you announce the news to your child:

  • he fell asleep / he is sleeping

  • he left

The child may think that his confidant is going to wake up or wait for him to return.

He might also be afraid to go to sleep for fear of dying himself.

Certain expressions can lead him to believe that the animal left because he took care of it badly or that he made mistakes.

Your child will then feel guilty.

Read alsoDiscover the best dog breeds for children

How can you help your child deal with grief and mourn?

Invite your child to express their feelings

The disappearance of the pet is a very painful moment for the child.

It is important that he can express his grief, what he feels.

It can be inhabited by sadness, anger, guilt, a feeling of abandonment.

Don't minimize his grief, take it seriously, even for the disappearance of his goldfish.

Good to know

Children's reactions to the disappearance of their pet are different from one individual to another.

Some may experience insomnia, nightmares, loss of appetite... These normal reactions disappear over time.

The death of his companion can raise questions about death or other subjects, take the time to answer him.

This will also be an opportunity to reassure him by explaining to him that he is not responsible for his death.

Plan a ceremony

To help your child grieve, offer him a goodbye ceremony.

You can bury an object of his friend in the garden, he will have a place to collect himself when he wishes.

You can also offer your child to write him a goodbye letter or to draw a picture of the deceased animal.

You can also frame a photo of the dog, cat, that you will install in his room for example.

When he feels the need (if he feels the need), he can collect himself in front of it.

Read alsoBurial of pets: what does the law say?

This moment of goodbye will also be an opportunity to talk about your beloved pet, to evoke memories, to pay homage to it and to maintain the link with it.

How long should mourning last?

This time of mourning will also be the time when the child will learn that his animal is a unique being, that he is not interchangeable, replaceable.

He will learn that another animal will not replace his missing confidant.

So be careful not to want him to forget his faithful companion by adopting another puppy, or a kitten, or a new turtle too quickly.

A period of 2 to 3 months is necessary for him to mourn.

It goes without saying that the time needed to experience this mourning is specific to each child.

Some will need more time than others.

Talk it over with him.

But if your offspring does not want to adopt a new animal, respect their choice.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-01-23

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