Since we're grieving with them, we may be at a loss for words.
Our 12-year-old Golden Retriever died a month ago. It's been a hard time for us, particularly because our son has never really dealt with the finality of death, and certainly not with a 'family' member. He asked questions, and I wanted to be sure my answers didn't pen his thoughts in, but also opened up the emotional venue for him to grieve.
There are some excellent books for children about pet death, and here are ten that will help teach your child how to cope with the death of a pet.
1. The Rough Patch By Brian Lies
This book is a beautiful tale of how we feel when our beloved pet dies - the world is just not the same. Yet, The Rough Patch shows our children that even in the hard times, there is beauty to be found, and it's a lesson for children and adults alike.
Related: How to Help Children When a Pet Dies
This colorful book helps children put a picture to the elusive Rainbow Bridge we talk to them about when our pets die. It's about the loss of a seven-year-old's pet, and how life on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge might be, so it's perfect to give your elementary school or younger child an idea of how to happily think of their pet once it's gone.
3. Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
Well-known and loved children's author, Cynthia Rylant, poignantly touches on how beautiful the life of our beloved pets is after they're gone. Rylant's gorgeous art shows that our furry best friends end up with only the best (as it should be) when they leave our lives. You'll want a tissue if reading with your child.
4. I'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm
This precious story of an adorable little Dachshund and her human boy best friend gives children a picture of how pets passing away can be peaceful and intimate. The book also helps take some of their fear of death away. The watercolors are gorgeous and the sentiment gives children permission to grieve as long as they need.
5. The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr
This tale of a family goldfish dying is a realistic view of how sometimes children will ask questions we don't have the answers to, and that's okay - we want them to ask so they can know they'll always be supported in their emotions and feelings - even if it's 'just a fish.' It's a great way to validate our children's intense emotions as normal.
6. Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
Allowing children to see emotions of friends and family at the death of beloved Badger, children learn from this book that memories and legacy of our pets never have to end. It's a touching look at how we can help deal with the sadness of loss by remembering the joy of love, and in a way they can relate to easily.
For Every Cat An Angel details how from the second a sweet kitten first mews to its last little breath, its forever person will never forget it. Even once it's gone, the cat's 'guardian angel' will make sure that the love is always there. This is a really sweet book that helps ease a child's worry about who is 'taking care of' their cat when they've passed.
Related: Ask the Expert: How Do We to Talk to Kids About Death?
8. Saying Goodbye To Lulu by Corinne Demas
Lulu and her girl grow up together, but as she ages and becomes frailer, Lulu's human has to come to terms with her passing. The book does a really lovely job of realistically showing the complex emotions that come with knowing your pet's death is near, and will be particularly helpful for children whose pet has a terminal diagnosis.
Author Constance Jenkins wrote this poem for her sister when her sister's beloved cat passed, and for older children and young adults, pet loss bears a heavy weight they can't always show in tears. Though many use this poem for the loss of humans, knowing the gravity of loss and emotions spent on a cat tells our older children that their grief is valid and that losing a beloved pet is like losing a family member.
10. Sammy In The Sky by Barbara Walsh
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barbara Walsh wrote this beautiful tale about a loved dog who dies younger because of an illness. It was inspired by Walsh's family's first dog and is accompanied by gorgeous watercolor illustrations that showcase realistic emotions between a person and their furry family member.
Top Photo Credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock
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