A mom writes in asking for advice on how to help her 7-year-old daughter cope with the death of their family dog. This mom says her daughter has experienced an unfortunate amount of grief and loss in her life, and as a result, the family has always been honest about death. But the recent loss of their family dog, who had been her daughter’s “protector,” has become a great source of sadness. She says her daughter will randomly start bawling thinking about the dog. How can this mom help her young daughter process the grief?
A member of the community asks:
“How can I help my daughter cope with the death of our dog?
My daughter is 7 yrs old, and unfortunately, she has had to experience more than her fair share of death in those few short years. We have always been honest with her about death. We have never lied and said so, and so is just sleeping, giving her false hope that they will one day wake up or putting the fear or sleep in her head.
With that being said, she is a very soft-hearted little girl who honestly wears her heart on her sleeve. She lost her Great-grandma at 2.5, and yes, she remembers her name and things about her. We don’t tell her things, and she just knows them. We have lost my uncle and my granddaddy since. She also talks about him.
But our main source of sadness comes from the loss of our family dog. We got our dog three years before we had our daughter. He was her protector, you could say. Unfortunately, our dog was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and after many doses of medication, he still couldn’t walk. We had to make that hard decision to stop his pain. We told her that he was very sick and didn’t feel well and he went to heaven. But she will randomly cry because she misses him.
We just got back from grabbing a quick dinner, and she was bawling in the back seat. When I asked what was wrong, she brought up our dog. I just held her and reassured her that he is feeling much better and has people looking out for him. But I am honestly at a loss as to how to handle it. Maybe I am not handling it correctly, but I just need some advice. Thank you in advance!!”
Community Advice for This Mom Who Wants to Help Her Daughter Cope with the Death of Their Family Dog
To see what advice the Mamas Uncut Facebook community has for this mom in need, read the comments of the post embedded below.
The community offered this mom in need a lot of great advice. Read some of their responses below.
“Keeping an open conversation is definitely best. Grieving is a process and takes a lot of time. I know there are also lots of books that you can purchase specifically for kids about grieving to help with the process. If my dog died I would be a hysterical mess for years. So what she’s going through is totally normal! My oldest two lost pets to a fire almost 7/8 yrs ago. It still comes up at times and they get emotional. Hang in there momma!”
“There’s a poem called Rainbow Bridge. It’s about pets and it may help her out.”
“This is so hard. It has almost been exactly 1 year since we had to say goodbye to our pup. We got him the year my husband and I married and he passed away when my oldest was 9 and youngest was 3. They both still talk about him all the time. They will still cry out of nowhere because something reminded them of him…
… He used to sleep with my oldest and nighttime was her worse time. To the point at times she was inconsolable. I had her a blanket made with a bunch of pictures of her and him on it for her bed. Eventually, I made the decision to get another dog. Not to replace the one we lost and I got an entirely different breed. She has not cried another night since…
… Also, Every time they bring up our 1st, we talk about him. Even if we’ve addressed the same thing 100x, we still talk About him. We all miss him, he was the best dog ever but the quiet of the house was getting to me too. A new dog will never fix the pain of losing a dog, but somehow (especially for the kids) it helps. So sorry for y’all’s loss and I hope this helps.”
“You don’t really need to DO anything except being there… She needs to go through the process of grieving and then coming to terms with it… Lots of hugs and love is all you can do!”
“You are doing an amazing job! The book The Invisible String is great a book to help with kids with the grieving process.”
“You did a great job explaining it! Losing a pet is so emotional for any human. My daughter had THEE hardest time when we lost our dog. Her great-great-grandma had passed and obviously she was very sad, GG was the greatest but when we had to put our 7-year-old dog down our daughter was so emotional. We got Moose when our daughter was 15 months old. They were BEST friends.”
“Being open about death is always a good thing. When my father committed suicide, I was told that he ‘just went to sleep and never woke up’ … I was terrified for years until I learned the truth.”
“I think you did a great job. You mentioned heaven, so are you a Christian? If so, what I did with my 4-yo is say that the dog and cat we had to put down went to heaven and are with Jesus right now because they were just so very sick and couldn’t be here right now. I told her that they are better and happy now and no longer hurting. It helps because she says that she knows she will see them again one day with Jesus and it brings her ease.”
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