The death of a loved one is a miserable time for everyone, but it can be especially traumatic and confusing for a child. Children experiencing grief will cope with their loss in different ways, even when it is their pet.
Parents can help them build healthy coping skills for their future and support them through the grieving process.
Children express their grief differently than adults. They show how they are coping by crying, asking questions, or not even reacting at all. Some may go from crying one minute to playing the next.
It is important to notice their behavior.
Listen and answer their questions, and comfort them by giving them hugs and reassurance during this sad time. This can help them feel safe, so they can get through it.
A child’s grief is no less intense than that experienced by adults, lasting for weeks or months after the loss.
It is essential to encourage kids to say what they are thinking and feeling.
Sharing how you feel about the situation will help them become aware of and feel comfortable with their feelings. If a child is having trouble talking about how they feel, it might be easier for them to express their emotions through drawing pictures, looking at photos, or telling stories.
The good thing is children tend to grieve for a shorter period of time than adults, and the best thing you can do is help them feel better!
It is still a good idea to have ongoing conversations to see how your child is feeling and doing following a loss of a family member or pet, but after giving them time to grieve, spending time with them and doing activities together will cheer them up. Recalling and sharing happy memories helps heal grief and activate positive feelings to help everyone move on.
Then, kids will truly know that everything will be okay.