Telling a child about the death of an animal

Telling a child about the death of an animal

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All parents dread telling their child about the death of their animal.

How to explain the disappearance of this confidant so dear?

We give you some ideas for soothe his sorrowand answer his questions.

Announce the death of the animal to the child

Child psychiatrists recognize that children are aware of death as soon as they enterIn kindergarten, awakened by the different screens (5 to 7 years ago).

What to avoid:

  • Lie to your child,because he will quickly realize the disappearance of his animal and see your grief. He may resent you later for keeping the truth from him.
  • Use expressions like he is gone, he is sleeping or he is in heaven.He'll think his pet abandoned him because he didn't take care of him, hope he will wake up or want to join him.

Being in denial and in secrecy delays a necessary bereavement.

Did you know ?

  • Before 3 years old, a child has no notion of death.
  • Between 4 and 8 years old, the child is afraid of death and asks himself the first questions.
  • From the age of 8, the child is able to accept the idea of ​​death.

Use the right words to talk about death:

Use simple, precise words that will answer your child's questions and soothe him without giving out sordid details.

  • Your animal died because it was sick, it is no longer in pain.
  • Your animal was old, his heart stopped, he died.

Take the time to talk to him so he can express his grief. Talk to him about the natural cycle of life according to his age and maturity: reproduction, birth, life, death.

Explain the consequences of the animal's death:

The disappearance of his animal for the child is absolutely violent. You must have a clear speech to allow him to accept it and move on.

  • You won't see him again.
  • He won't be able to play with you anymore.
  • You will stay in touch with him only by looking at photos or remembering the good times you spent with him.
  • Talk about it positively to soothe your child's grief.

Smart tip

You can help yourself with materials such as children's books that address the subject of the death of a loved one. The illustrations sometimes speak more to children.

Accept the death of the animal

Should we show him the animal's body?

If the child expresses the wish, showing him the body of his animal will allow him to realize that he is really dead and to say goodbye to him. It is also an opportunity to express your grief. In this case, make sure to present the body well so that it is not traumatic.

Provide a place of meditation:

Bury the animal in a corner of your garden or an object that has belonged to it (if it is too large an animal) to provide a place of contemplation. Your child can place flowers there and visit the place.

Reassure your child about death:

The child who loses his pet feels lonely and develops the fear of losing other loved ones.

  • Tell him that you are healthy and that you are not going to die.
  • Remind him that death is not contagious.
  • Talk to him about the preciousness of life.
  • Encourage him to take care of himself.
  • Let him know that when his pain is less, you will agree to take in another animal. Choosing another breed is preferable to avoid comparisons.

Read also : my child wants an animal: good or bad idea?

Smart tip

Most veterinarians offer psychological helpupon the death of an animal. Sometimes it is essential to accept it.


"The most violent mourning is always that of the imaginary. "



© Ines Wiehle

Video: How to Talk to Kids about Death. Child Anxiety (August 2022).