Family-Friendly Ways to Heal Together

Navigating the delicate path of helping our children cope with loss is a journey that demands both strength and tenderness. Over the past few years, my family has faced our fair share of heartache – from the painful experience of a miscarriage in 2021 to bidding farewell to my beloved grandfather last year. And this year, within the span of just four days, we said goodbye to both of our cherished furpups. Each loss brought its own unique challenges, testing our resilience and emotional endurance.

If you have ever had to help your children grieve a loss, you understand the struggle – the search for the right words, the comforting gestures, and the reassurance they desperately need, all while you are also processing the loss. It is tough. I understand. It took me over a week just to pick up the dog’s food, left untouched where they left it.

Amidst these challenging situations, there can be a beacon of comfort I found as we navigated the loss of our furpups.

• Create a Memory Box: Encourage your children to gather photos and mementos of their beloved pet to create a memory collage. This artistic expression can be a therapeutic way to celebrate the joy and love your pet brought into your lives.

• Hold a Memorial Ceremony: Organize a small memorial ceremony where family members can share their favorite memories of the pet. This can provide closure and a sense of unity in honoring the life of your furry friend.

• Open Communication Channels: Foster an open environment for your children to express their feelings. Encourage them to talk about their emotions and share stories about the pet. This dialogue helps in processing grief.

• Read Together: Explore books that deal with pet loss. We really enjoyed “Love from Alfie McPoonst: Best Dog Ever.” Reading together creates a shared experience and may facilitate conversations about emotions and healing.

• Draw or Paint: Engage in art activities where children can express their emotions through drawing or painting. Art provides a non-verbal outlet for them to communicate their feelings.

• Plant a Memorial Garden: Planting flowers or a tree in memory of a loved one or a pet can be a beautiful way to symbolize growth and the enduring nature of love.

Approaching loss with empathy, patience, and creativity can help children navigate the complex emotions associated with grief in a supportive and understanding way.

Submitted by Sarah Clark