NHM Readers Recommend: How to Tell a Child a Pet has Passed Away

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader: “I have a very poorly kitty. Just waiting for the results but I think it’s likely she may need to be put down. My girls are totally attached to her, especially my eldest daughter. I was wondering if you might be able to do a question about how to tell a child a pet has passed away. And how they help with the grieving process?”

Many thanks to the NHM Community for all of your responses, listed below:

NHM Readers recommend how to tell a child a pet has passed away

Rachele said:

“The rainbow bridge is a good way to explain it. You have to be honest about it but just that when they see the brightest star it’s her watching down etc. It’s never easy.”

Marta said:

“This is very sad. I work as a psychotherapist and there are a few things we use in therapy to help with grieving process. The most powerful exercise is to allow children to write (parents can help if the child is too young) their own message”

Andy said:

“So, our daughter is three and a half. Her cat was hit by a car last month…We wrestled with the idea of allowing her to say goodbye. But decided that it was probably the best way to go.”

Wendy said:

“It’s hard because you have no idea how they will react until you have told them. My son has lost two cats, last time it happened he was four. He was OK, we just keep a few photos around and talk about our cat when my son asks. Use honest language, say dead not gone etc. We said our cat was no longer with us, someone then used that term to describe a nursery worker who had left, he thought they had died.”

Zoe said:

“When our elderly cats had to be put down my girls were small and didn’t understand. They came up with the idea that the cats had gone to live with Santa.”

Helen said:

“We said that our pets became stars”

Vicki said:

“There are some great stories about grief – Badgers Parting Gift is nice”

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