Coming to terms with losing a pet is something a lot of families have to face. Here at Binky Bear we are great animal lovers. Over the years Binky’s doggy friends and their families have become our friends. There was Max, the Great Dane, in Binky’s Big Adventure, Bertie and Rudi, the two corgis in Binky Goes to London and Squirt in Binky in Trouble. Dear Squirt died earlier this month, which made us think just what it means for the little ones in our lives to lose a much-loved pet, who has been both their friend and confidante.
The loss could be sudden but if the pet has been ailing for a while or is very old, you may have the time to talk about what might happen at the end of his life. When a pet has to be ‘put to sleep’ it’s as well to present the truth in an age-appropriate form. An explanation like ‘ he’ll never get better’ or ‘ he’ll die peacefully’ will depend on the child’s level of understanding. In the long run it’s better to stick to the truth and your own view of what happens after death may inform your explanation, even if it’s just a simple ‘I don’t know’.
Sharing the grief
It’s difficult to gauge the right moment to break the news. Important considerations are: having the child’s full attention, being in a safe and comfortable place with no distractions and maybe talking one-to-one. It’s also fine for you to be sad, as it’s good for the children to know that you’re affected by the loss too. Sharing is a positive thing. Your pet was a member of the family and loved by everyone. A ceremony to mark his death or celebrate his life can also help.
Getting over it
Often the pet arrived in the family home before the children came along. He has always been nearby as they played and later hovered by the front door waiting for them to rush in from school. As time goes by the loss becomes less painful and you find yourselves laughing about the pet’s antics and sharing tales of the fun you had together.
In time you may consider another pet. The first inkling may come from the kids themselves. You’ll know when the moment is right.
It’s truly amazing what our pets teach us about life and, as it happens, about death as well.
We’d like to thank the Evason family for letting us use these wonderful family pictures of Squirt.
Useful info from The Blue Cross – https://www.bluecross.org.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/Children%20and%20pet%20loss.pdf
And a book: Goodbye, Mog by Judith Kerr (author of the Tiger who Came to Tea) –