K.N. asks from Washington, IL on June 18, 2008
How Do I Help My Kids Through the Loss of Their Pet?
Last night we discovered that our 3 year old Himalayan was run over by a car. He was an indoor cat, we had no idea he got outside. My oldest boy (7) is taking it the hardest. Any ideas on how to make this time easier. They've never had to deal with any kind of death before.
A.B. answers from Peoria on June 19, 2008
Talking about all the good times they can remember about the cat is ALWAYS a good thing. They will eventually want another or a dog, but the best medicine is to talk about the cat and all the fun they had with him.
A.A. answers from Chicago on June 18, 2008
This may be a little out there, but this past weekend I was at Brookfield Zoo. In the Hamill Family's childrens play zoo they had a whole little section dedicated to pets that had passed away. Kids had drawn pics and I miss you cards to the pets and they were hung up. There was also a few great books that specifically dealt with the death of a pet. It was adorable. Maybe have your kids can make cards for their cat and be part of the burial or small memorial service. I wish I could remember the name of the books. If you have time try and stop in at the zoo and see this little exhibit.
2 moms found this helpful
K.B. answers from Chicago on June 19, 2008
K.-I've seen this in different forms, but figured it could help some others, too so I included the story.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
Based on this, I believe is a website...
I'm sorry for your loss.
1 mom found this helpful
P.A. answers from Chicago on June 19, 2008
My sincerest condolences on the loss of your family member. Pet are such an integral part of the family thata I think it is most important to remember that from your child's view that is the depth of the loss.
As others have already told you, taking the time to work through the grief with your child is very important. This will not be an easy time, for you or him and that is okay. You would not expect him to take the loss of anoy human family member easily, so give him the permission to feel the loss before he has to move on from it.
It makes sense that your 7 year old would demonstrate the deepest sense of loss, since he has the best chance of remembering life before the cat, getting the cat, and living with him.
Last year within the span of 45 days, our family had to put down our aging dog and then lost our pet fish. it was a tough time for all of us but especially for the kids (then ages 6, 4 and 1). After the dog died, we did the run to the library and sat and read several books on loosing a pet (the children's librarian was tremndously helpful in making the selection). we checked out 3 books because each of the kids seemed to appreciate a different story. Our dog was cremated and we did not keep the ashes, so there was a need to explain to them where his physical body now is.
My best advice is to simply answer his questions in a way that honestly reflects your belief system. The temptation may be to give him more information than he is ready to process. Let him guide the conversation and don't be afraid to let him know that you are hurting too.
One year later, we are making plans to visit the pet cemetary where our dog's ashes are. Our son (then 4, now 5) is still processing the loss. every now and then he'll just mention it and have some random question about how it all happened, why or where the dog is now. When this happens, it is usually our older daughter who responds first.
it has served to stregthen their relationship as they mourn together.
Peace be with you
A.G. answers from Chicago on June 19, 2008
I am soo sorry about your cat. It's really hard when a pet dies, especially when you have little kids. When my parents dog (Mugzy) died about 1 1/2 years ago at 17 we were all heart broken. Anyhow, my son got the honor of knowing him for four years. I know it is different because your cat got out on accident, and I had that happen growing up too, but we are teenagers in our house, so it was a little easier to explain. I know I saw a book at the library called "All Cats go to Heaven." I cannot think of the author right now. Maybe that will help. We sat my son down and told him...lit a candle to say a prayer for Mugzy and remember nice things about him, and we also had a picture of him and Mugzy together that we gave him to keep (he keeps it in a box under his bed), to look at anytime he misses him. He still asks questions and I will admit it was easier to explain because Mugzy was so old and sick, but still painful. Unfortunately it is a life lesson we all have to learn sooner or later. I am so sorry and I hope some of these ideas help.
N.L. answers from Chicago on June 19, 2008
Someone else already posted The Rainbow Bridge website - it was a huge help to me when my cat died (and I was 32). One thing that worked wonders for me and also for my friend's young daughter when her cat died was a link through the rainbow bridge site. It's called the Monday Night Candle Ceremony. Each Monday for about 2 months, I participated and while I cried, I also felt tremendous peace. Here's the link...
There's also a great book called "10 Good Things About Barney." It might help as well.
I agree with everyone who mentioned letting him grieve and talk about the loss. In our family, we have our furry kids pictures on the wall with our non-furry child. We talk about having four kids - three with fur. This was a member of your family, so it may take some time, but it will get easier each day.
Good luck and please know your in our prayers. Losing a pet is never easy - while the Rainbow Bridge offers comfort, it's hard to not want them here with you still!
V.N. answers from Chicago on June 18, 2008
I am so sorry to hear about your loss. The U of I has a great resource for dealing with pet loss.
Some personal recommendations of books are:
-I remember (Memory Book) by Mary Montgomery (good for 9-13 year olds) - ____@____.com - this is free if you e-mail this address
-Children and Pet loss: A guide for Helping by Marty Tousley (more for you to help them through)
The Accident by Carl Carrick
Healing your Greiving Heart: 100 practical ideas by Allan Wolfelt
Additionally they have a free hot-line you can call to talk about I am not sure if this would help your son or if they could provide further ways to help him.
Again I am sorry to hear about your loss.
K.G. answers from Chicago on June 19, 2008
I saw someone else trying to give you the name of this wonderful book. It is "Cat Heaven" by Cynthia Rylant and is so lovely. (She also did one called "Dog Heaven.") Best of luck and so sorry for your loss.
M.O. answers from Chicago on June 19, 2008
We had a hard time explaining death to our 2 year old grandson whom we raised after his mother died (our daughter). He saw pictures of her but that wasn't enough. He asked my daughter: "are you my mommn?" and she said: "no, I'm your auntie". He asked me if I was his mother and I said: "No, I'm your grandmommy and I'm here to take care of you because your mommy went to Heaven". He then wanted to talk to his M.. We made a brief trip to the cemetary and when we arrived at her graveside, he let go a helim ballon to up to Heaven and say hi to his M.." It took a total of less than 5 minutes. No one cried, and he was satisfied. As he got older, he would ask questions and we would answer them. We always kept it simple. A year ago, the dog that he had been raised with died at the age of 14. The dog had been moving slower, going blind and deaf but our grandson w/not hear of putting him down. "He's fine. I'll take care of him." He carried him outside three times a day to do his thing and then carried him back in. He placed the dog in our bed every night where he had always slept. We started to tell him that it was time to let go and he said: "I know, I know, but not yet". One day, the dog tried to stand up and fell over, unable to get on his feet. We looked at our grandson and said: "it's time to let him , to release him from the pain. He's counting on us to make the decision". He agreed and carried the dog to the car. It was a quiet ride to the vet's where they allowed us to say goodbye and gently put him to sleep. It was all over very quickly. The vet gave me a pin of a dog with angel wings which I carried around for awhile. My suggestion to you is to get out the pictures, talk about the good times with your pet, and suggest you get balloons to send to heaven. Keep it brief, keep it simple, but it will give closure to your kids, at their level. You are a loving M. to be sensitive to this issue.