kids and grief

How to Handle Grief & Kids… When You Have to Put Down Their Dog

What happens with grief & kids collide? This May we had to put our dog down. It was an impossible choice and one that we felt needed to include the kids, most specifically the when of it all. We laid out the options, the reasons, and asked them what they thought. When we told our children, their first thought was for Titus.

  • Would it hurt?
  • How would he feel?
  • Would he be scared?

And their next thoughts were how we could celebrate his memory. 

We knew some of the answers because we had done our research beforehand to be prepared to answer whatever questions they had. We still had to say “we don't know” in a few instances. There is nothing wrong with admitting you don't know something and committing to find the answer at a later time. Kids can tell when we lie, especially when it comes to things like this.

What did his celebration of life look like?

In the end we have kept it simple. I took Titus for a “last walk” after having a really good week of loving on him extra and fluffing up his fur. He had the most unbelievably soft fur. The kids said their final goodbyes at their grandmother's house and I took Titus to a gorgeous place a few minutes up the road from the Vet office to explore one last time.

We made it back to the car just as it started to rain. When it rains around here, I tell the kids it's my Dad saying he loves you and he's giving you a hug. Boy did I need it right then.

Fast forward a week or so and I had these pictures done up to put on the wall. Below these are his ashes in a gorgeous, warm wooden box. He's in his second favorite place to be in the house, the middle of the hallway between all the bedrooms. His favorite place was the top of the stairs and we were constantly telling (and yelling at) him to move.

Grief & Kids

Kids have this way of tapping into the heart of grief. They haven't learned all the boundaries around asking questions, which I think is great. And even though it's difficult, I think we need to give them the space to ask the questions they have about loss and death.

Whenever my children ask me tough questions about my dad's death and now their dog's death, I try to remember they are asking out of love and curiosity.  I'd love to hear what your experiences have been! Have you experienced losing a pet as a kid/adult or had to work with your kids through the loss of their pet? What happened?

Ready to start connecting with the people you love before they're gone?

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