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August 8, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Helping Children Through the Loss of a Pet

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Losing a beloved pet is never easy.

I hear from many people that have had to experience this say "never again". They say they will never get another pet. They want to avoid dealing with the severe emotional pain it causes to lose one.

I personally could not ever imagine my life without a pet. The smile that always welcomes me when I walk through the door after a long stressful day, I could never do without. No person could ever do the same. Only an animal has the passion and grace to do so. For that, I'm even willing to experience the extreme pain of losing a best friend and loving companion.

Each one of my pets that has passed, has represented a certain stage I was at in my life. Each beloved pet is a different memory that I hold dear in my heart! One that I will always remember is Cece. Cece was only 10 weeks old when she passed away unexpectedly. It sounds strange. Why would a pet I had for only 10 weeks be the one that resonates inside my heart and mind? Cece was the first pet that passed away when my children were old enough to understand and experience the emotional loss of a beloved pet.

Helping Children Through the Loss of a Pet

CeceMy children, Jake (age 5 at the time of Cece's death) and Ahnna (age 4 at the time of Cece's death) were very confused and sad when Cece passed away. It was the first death that they ever truly understood in human and animal alike.

I knew they had to get closure and I wanted them to understand that passing of a loved one means experiencing many emotions. I made sure to let them go through the process. My husband, Larry, suggested that we hold a "Wake" for the kids, so they could experience what a funeral and ceremony is about. Larry was AWESOME during all of this as I was going through my own personal grievance over losing Cece.

As I was coming home with Cece's body (from the vet), Larry had already made sure the food was bought for the luncheon, the hole was dug (to bury little Cece's body) and the box was ready. Even my best friend, Holly, was there for us during this time! I gave the kids markers and stickers and told them they could decorate Cece's coffin. They wrote (to the best of their ability - they WERE only 5 and 4) little notes and had drawn pictures on her box. We also placed all of Cece's toys and her special blanket (each one of my beloved pets gets their own personal blanket) inside the box with her, which we had the kids put the items in the box for her. Larry sealed it and we all went to the back yard to bury her.

As Larry was putting Cece in the ground, our kids were on the swing-set watching. My back was to Ahnna and Jake as I was crying uncontrollably when I heard it Ahnna start to sing "Amazing Grace" in her little voice. I stood their shocked and couldn't believe my little 4 year old was singing this beautiful song (she had heard her daddy sing it many times). No, she didn't get every word perfectly, but just the fact that it was in her little heart to sing such a meaningful song and at just the right moment (God definitely had a hand in this) was unbelievable.

After she completed her version of the song, we went inside and had a mini "luncheon" after the burial. We explained to the children that the luncheon is a time we celebrate Cece's life that she had with us and that it was ok to be sad and cry anytime.

Everyone handles the loss of a pet in their own personal way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no timeline. Just know that God blessed us with his heavenly creation called the Dog (Cats too) for us, so that we may have the opportunity to share such their wonderful blessing of unconditional love. There will always be a new blanket waiting for my new fur kids to come home to me when one of my beloved babies are called to cross the "Rainbow Bridge".


Author Unknown

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.


ASPCA - Pet Loss and Children

Pet Loss - Rainbow Bridge

Pet Place - Explaining Pet Loss To Children Six Do's and Don'ts

More from Health Coach Victoria Swanson Others Are Reading


  • Hi Victoria...nice article...You were very supportive when I went through the passing of Norie & always so helpful. I agree with what you said about the passing of our beloved pets. This is a time in our lives we will never forget & hold on to all the special times they shared with us. I miss Norie more than ever, The training tip you gave me about my new puppy Casper has been working. I had to take Max to the vet today for possible disk problems & they gave him prednisone & muscle relaxers. Pray that he doesn't have a permanent problem. Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday...:)

  • Thanks Rachelle as always for your support in what I do. It means so much to me! Blessings to you all. Praying for Max!

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