August 18, 2015 | Posted in Doctor Sigmund Furry Series

Rainbow-BridgeDear Dr. Furry,

Our little Yorkie has just gone on to his heavenly home. How do I tell my grandchildren who love him so much?

Beverly, Hoboken, NJ


Dear Beverly,

Please accept my condolences on the passing of your little treasure. Like each person in a household, our pets take their rightful places, too, and are missed as much as humans. Children see pets as close friends who are very important to them.

The best way to help a child deal with the death of a pet is to LISTEN carefully to what they say, how they feel and give their feelings credence and respect. The ages of the children will help you communicate with them in appropriate ways.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross best explained the five natural stages of grief as: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are equally applicable to the death of pets as they are to humans.

Be careful not to fall prey to the “goldfish method” — immediately acquiring another pet too soon after the death of the first one. Kids need time to grieve in their own individual ways. They need to know that living things are not that easily replaced.

At some time in the future if you do introduce a new pet into the house, please don’t treat it like you treated the first one; don’t name it the same or refer to it in any way that harkens back to your treatment of the first pet.

Other people in children’s lives can also help them over this sad time, such as caregivers, coaches, teachers, mentors.

~ Dr. Sigmund Furry