What to say & what NOT to say to a child who has lost their pet
What to say:
- Do you want to talk about how you are feeling?
- I am so sorry.
- I love you.
- I care how you are feeling.
- Do you want to talk about the memories we have regarding… (pet’s name)?
- Do want to tell me about your pet?
- I am sure that this is very difficult for you, do you want to share?
As caregivers, (whether we are parents, grandparents, nanny, teacher, etc.) we want to make it all better. No one enjoys watching a child suffer, whether the pain is physical or emotional. However, it is important (for their future growth) to allow them to walk through the grieving process. It allows them to find resolve and have a healthy outcome. If they come to you with questions, have an open and honest (age appropriate) conversation with them. Their curiosity is a healthy sign that they are finding their way through the grieving process.
What not to say:
- You can get another pet to replace (pet’s name).
- At least you still have (name of any other pet in the home).
- God needed to take him home.
- At least your pet is no longer in pain.
- Lots of people lose a pet.
- It was just a pet.
- You are a big boy/girl, you need to be brave.
- Only babies cry!
I realize that a few of the above are rather harsh. I have included them because you would be surprisingly taken aback as to what some people may say. I have always believed that less is more. When you are not sure what the proper thing to say is, say nothing and just give a hug or hold a hand.