22/06/17

11/06/17
Coping With the Loss of a Beloved Family Pet

Evan, Aimee and Abbie had shared their home with various pets over the years, but had always longed for a puppy. One day, the children were ecstatic to find their mummy had surprised them with a cute, fluffy eared, sandy coloured, German shepherd cross puppy.

As a family, they all decided on her name, they called her Jessie bear. Jessie bear was a cuddly pup who thrived on attention from the children. But as the weeks passed, Jessie became lethargic and would often sprawl out on the floor.

She was the beloved family pet and the bond between the family and her had grown strong over the wonderful 8 weeks she had been with them. As usual, Jessie laid soundly on the floor as she peacefully slept. Little did they know, that this was the last time she would close her beautiful brown eyes, the last time she’d peer into the eyes of the children as they stroked her.

Sadly, Jessie had passed away in her sleep from an undetected heart abnormality. It was only natural for the whole family to feel devastated and shocked with their loss. The loss of a pet can be a traumatic experience for a child, and mummy was struggling to control her own emotions while also trying to support her children to understand their feelings.

Mum researched online to seeking advice on how best to support her children. She came across a grief support centre known as ‘Rainbow Bridge’. There she found strategies to support her children as they passed through the grieving process.

Mum described her own feelings to be that of emptiness and sadness, as she longed to touch and stoke her Jessie bear just one last time, natural feelings often associated with the loss of a loved one (Silverman. Phyllis R, 2011).

Mum discovered that asking questions can be a helpful strategy (Silverman. Phyllis R, 2011) and shared her own feelings with them. These opportunities for open discussion supported the family as a whole as they learned to cope with feelings of sadness, anger and guilt.

Rather than grieving alone, the family grieved together, supporting each other in unity.

If you are suffering and need support with the loss of a beloved pet, the following support services can help you through difficult times:

References:

Rainbow Bridge

https://rainbowbridge.com/grief_support_center/grief_support/chrildren_and_petloss.htm

Silverman. Phyllis R, (2011)
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/raising-grieving-children/201104/children-need-learn-define-grief

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