Saying Farewell to a Beloved Family Pet

family pet

Our family recently said goodbye to our beloved 11-year-old dog, Kali. She had been on many fun adventures with my husband and I before we had children and was there greeting us when both of our children came home from the hospital. She was our boys’ first furry friend and I was very nervous as to how the boys would handle her somewhat sudden passing. Dealing with death and grief is not something our kids have experienced before so this was all new for them.

saying farewell to a beloved family petWhile I wish that I could shield them from pain and loss of our family pet, both are part of life and my husband and I took a very open approach to discussing death with them. Our children are two and five years-old, so we did keep it fairly simple in our explanations, but we were also very upfront about it. What surprised me was how well our boys seemed to handle it. Of course, there were tears and questions, and we are still answering questions a couple of weeks afterwards. Dealing with this loss has taught me a couple of new things that I thought I would pass along.

Talking about the loss helps.

Our dog was a member of our family and we all have special memories of her, so we talk about them. We encourage the kids to talk about her; we don’t want to make her name or her memory “off limits” for them. Talking about her does bring up emotions, and often tears welling up in our eyes, but I feel that talking about her makes it seem like she is still with us in spirit.

While this was all taking place, I was reading about ways to help children grieve and one thing that stuck with me was that you should use the term “died” when talking about the loss instead of phrases like “went to sleep.” In particular, the ‘sleep’ aspect, could make children afraid of sleep and create a fear for them.

Put feelings into words.

This was a suggestion from the vet—on the day of her passing we each wrote a note to her. Our two-year-old put his scribbles on his paper, our five-year-old wrote a heartfelt note and my husband and I did the same. We are a Catholic family, so we told them that these notes would be waiting for her in heaven. Writing these notes were hard, but I really think that it helped us put feelings into words.

Discuss what exactly happened.

Kali passed away within a couple of weeks from cancer—her diagnosis was sudden and unexpected. Before this experience, neither of our children had heard of cancer before. We took this time to talk about cancer and what it can do to a body—again, in terms that they could understand and comprehend. We let them ask questions and we all talked about it.

While losing a family pet is never easy, it does come with valuable life lessons. Life isn’t always perfect, and I do think that this was a reminder for us to cherish our time together and count our blessings.

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Lauren is the proud mom of two spunky little boys, wife and business owner. She holds a Masters of Business Administration degree, is a marketing communications professional and owner of Auriga Marketing. While she was born in Phoenix, she grew up in Temecula, California and moved back to attend Xavier College Preparatory. After high school she ventured to Denver for college (and skiing) and then on to Honolulu a couple years after graduating. She and her husband returned to Arizona in 2012 and made Central Phoenix their home. They love to travel and experience different cultures, having a deep appreciation for a warm beach and sand between their toes. When she isn’t chasing after two boys or playing with their overly energetic dogs, she can be found working on a home DIY project, trying out a new recipe or planning their next family adventure. Oh, and she is also a firm believer that chocolate should be its own food group!



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