How I Helped My Kids Get Over The Death Of Their First Pet

19/07/2017 11:43

When it comes to providing my kids with life experiences, I'm all for it. I love nothing more than giving them the chance to try new things, take risks and become more confident. But some experiences are tougher for me to watch.

I'll admit that my kids have had their fair share of harsh experiences. They've had to move schools and make new friends - something that can be extremely traumatic for younger children. But because I encourage them to constantly take risks, sometimes they realise that's down to their choices - which isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Some of the negative things that they've experienced are just part of 'life'. One of those happened recently when their only pet - and animal they've grown up with - their cat Mindy, passed away.

For as long as I can remember, my kids have done a daily tradition of waking up and running into the kitchen to give Mindy a treat. It was the highlight of their day and Mindy truly was their first best friend.

Unfortunately, after being hit by a car two months ago, Mindy wasn't able to fully recover. Her health was declining and I knew that soon, I'd have to explain to my kids why she was gone - and how wonderful cat heaven is.

Sadly, the day came around quicker than I expected. Mindy had passed away in the night and as I was oblivious to what'd happened, it was my kids who rushed downstairs to feed her but found her lying lifeless on the sofa.

After prodding her and begging her to wake up, I overheard their conversation and ran to see what'd happened. Expecting the worst, I found them sobbing their hearts out and questioning why Mindy wasn't moving. Unfortunately, there was no chance of reviving her so I was forced to answer the one question that every parent fears when a child questions death... Why?

Helping my kids through the loss of their pet was one of the most stressful and heartbreaking things I've ever had to do. They'd never experienced a death close to the family before and because it was their most beloved pets, I struggled to help them get through it.

Once she passed away, I tried telling my kids that Mindy is in a better place where she isn't suffering anymore, but that didn't work as they had no idea about how poorly she had been. Maybe that was bad judgement on my part for not pre-warning them about her deteriorating health but I didn't want them to start wondering who else in the family could be ill, without them knowing.

However, one thing that helped my kids get through this negative experience was to help them change their view on death: the fact that it's just part of life. I explained that billions of people before them had passed away and tried to comfort them by saying that they're in a better place where they can relax forever.

I don't want my kids to fear death. It's something that they'll have to experience it at some point throughout their life.

In a bittersweet way, I'm glad that Mindy was the first loss of life that my kids experienced. Without having too much of an impact on their daily life (such as the loss of myself or their mother), it taught them that death is normal and shouldn't be feared.

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