Sunday, April 13, 2008

Losing a Family Pet

Have you ever had a pet die? I still remember when my first dog died and we went up to my grandparent's house and buried her. She was so cute. She had big, floppy black ears. I cried and cried.

We don't have any big pets now. We do have fish. I know they don't really count, but we do have to feed them and I get attached to everything. My son's first goldfish died a few years ago. I remember seeing him floating at the top of the fish bowl. It was so upsetting to me that we didn't get any new fish for two years! And my dad is the one who brought fish back into our lives, not me.

My mom's dog, Allie, just died a few months ago of cancer. That was very traumatic. I am glad I couldn't be there when they put her down. It's just so sad!

It's hard for adults to handle the death of a pet, how do you help your kids cope?

I found this story from the medical company Medstar:

When a pet dies, it’s like losing a member of the family. Fortunately,there are resources to help you cope with the sorrow. Susan McVie has to put her dog to sleep after discovering he had cancer. She said,
“Everywhere I went, he was behind me. if I walked from one room to the
other and I had to stop because I forgot something, he would bang into
the back of my legs. I promised him when I first knew this was gonna’
happen that I wouldn’t let him have a bad day.”

A pet’s death can be heartbreaking and fill you with guilt, but there are places to turn for help - starting with your veterinarian. Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Soares said, “Coping mechanisms, we deal with it a lot here. we can provide people with pet support groups online or by live telephone.” While there's no shortage of books on the topic, you may also find comfort putting your -own- thoughts down on paper. Dr. Soares said, "Everyone accepts it a little bit differently, but everyone has to go through it differently. kids' emotions run the gamut when a pet dies, depending on their age."

  1. Encourage them to talk about their feelings. Dr Soares said, “Some
    children can act out and grieve about it. Other children don’t cry about it, but
    you’ll find out weeks later something might happen on the playground and that’ll
    bring about their emotions of the loss of their pet.”

  2. Don't let your kids ignore the other pets in the house. The
    four-legged members of the family can also grieve. Dr. Soares said,
    “They’ll be lethargic, they won’t want to eat, they won’t want to play with
    their toys.”
  3. Give your kids time to cope. Susan McVie said, “You know you’re never gonna’ forget them, you just learn to go on.”

Mourning deeply for a pet is normal, but if the feelings last more than a few
weeks, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. Check with your doctor if you're

Fast Facts: More than 60% of American homes have at least one pet. Last year, more than $41.2 billion was spent on animal purchases and
care. Pets are great companions and provide unconditional and faithful support
to their owners. One study found 30% of cat and dog owners experienced severe
grief after the loss of their pet.

Audience Inquiry: Your veterinarian or local Human Society can provide regional resources to help families dealing with pet loss.

For General Information and Support:

American Animal Hospital AssociationThe American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Pet Loss Hotline: (877) 474-3310
American Veterinary Medical Association

The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

The Delta Society
The Humane Society of the United States

How did you handle the loss of a pet?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Diane Vespa said...

Jen, I lost my little Sofie back in October. It was awful. Wish I could tell you the secret to get through it but I don't think one exists. At some point you must give it up to a higher power.

After she passed, I felt I could never get another dog. The pain was just so bad I couldn't imagine ever having to experience a loss like that again. But after a few weeks passed, I realized the house would not get back to normal until we had another fuzz face in it.

After a few bumps in the road, we were blessed with 2 loveable Rescue Pekes, whom we named Merry and Milo. Milo is a total brat and completely uncivilized, but fortunately was born very good looking. Merry is a perfect lady, and her coat is turning into the most beautiful sable you ever saw.

In hindsight, you come to realize that things unfold exactly the way they should, and the way they work themselves into our hearts and homes is nothing short of remarkable!

Jennifer said...

My kids have only had one "real" pet, a 7 year old Jack Russell terrier that we've had since he was a puppy. I'm not really an "animal person" per se, but my daughter loves him so, so much, that I really fear him dying and the toll it will take upon her. I worried about it even before we got him, knowing she would get so attached. I almost decided against allowing a pet, but decided the joy he would bring was worth dealing with his eventual demise.

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