This new study explains how to help a child grieve the death of a beloved pet

The loss of a beloved furry friend is painful for everyone, but it can be particularly devastating for kids. A new study explains how to help a child grieve the death of a beloved pet, and its findings will undoubtedly be helpful for parents who are struggling to find the right way to support their kids during this difficult time.

Many children view their pets as their best friends, according to Live Science. One 13-year-old participant told researchers that, after the death of his cat two years ago, he felt as though "his life was over." (Yes, that made me tear up more than just a little.)

Study author Joshua Russell explained that many kids view their pets as siblings and feel a strong emotional connection with them — so it's not surprising that the death of a furry best friend has such a deep impact.

The grieving period varied by child — some said they were devastated for a long time, while others reported making peace with the death more quickly. One 11-year-old girl explained that, although she was sad about the loss of her pet guinea pig, she took comfort in the fact that the animal had lived a good life.

Russell explored how different families handled the loss of a pet. He found that some children found it helpful to connect with family and friends while they were grieving, but others wanted alone time in order to "deal with it on their own terms."


The study’s findings indicate that parents should let their children know they’re available to talk and go through the grieving process with them — but it’s important to respect a child’s wishes. If he or she prefers to have some alone time to deal with the grief, that should be honored as well.

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