Helping your child grieve the loss of a pet. It was a sunny afternoon and I was working on a coffee van at a festival when my husband text me don’t be mad but I’ve rescued two guinea pigs!
How could I be mad, the shop said that on one wanted them because of their age.
They were named Lily and Lola, we have had them for about two and a bit years now I think and they really are great companions and make such lovely first pets for children.
We upgraded their hutch to a two storey one for them and had a cage run for them in the garden which we would also bring indoors for them. However the weekend just gone my husband came in to me and said I don’t think Lily is very well. I went out to see her. My poor guinea pig making funny noise when she breathed.
I thought let’s bring her in and see how she goes, when I held her she seemed to calm and stopped making the noise. I put her back into the indoor cage with Lola and they cuddled up together.
Lily has always been the boss and she eats first, Lola gets what’s left. Lily loved her food so much so it was a concern that she wasn’t eating.
Around midday I thought she’s not getting better so I called the vet who told me to bring them up immediately. As I entered the vets office I took her out of the carrier and placed her down on the table.
I looked at her and said oh my god, she’s gone. It was too late, my poor Lily had passed away next to Lola in the car on the way to the vets. I was shocked, it was so sudden. Poor Lola, she was licking her and nuzzling her head into her as if she was encouraging her to wake up.
I decided to bring Lily home rather than have her cremated so the children could understand and so that they and Lola could say goodbye.
Happier Times. Lily and Lola loved cuddling up together.
My daughter kept asking me what did the vet say, I felt so sad. I didn’t know how to explain death to a 4 and 5 year old.
I told them that sadly Lily hadn’t made it, she had fallen asleep and wouldn’t be waking up. Uh it is so hard to try to find the right words. She asked me why and I explained that she was an old lady, she asked me how did she get old. It was so difficult.
I let them hold her and stroke her before wrapping her up in a tea towel and placing her in a box, I put Lola in with her for a short while to help her grieve and understand that she had passed.
My daughter seemed to understand and coped ok my son however was upset an did cry, and I cried with him. She was buried in my father in laws garden and the kids put some flowers on top. I don’t want my children to linger over her passing so I won’t mention it again to them now.
Here are my top tips for helping your child grieve over their loss;
1) Be honest about the situation, tell them in words they will understand about has happened.
2) Share your feelings and emotions it may help them to grieve easier if you do it together.
3) If possible allow them to see their pet if they wish. This may help them understand what has happened and ease the process of moving on.
4) Do hold a burial or memorial allowing them to say goodbye and get closure.
5) Give them the opportunity to ask questions or express their feelings.
6) If your pet does have a cage mate like our guinea pig allow them to give her extra time out of the cage and allow them to fuss her this helps with moving on also.
7) Don’t dwell on the situation longer than needed
Now we have just Lola and we will make sure that she has plenty of cuddle time with us.