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Children Grieving The Loss of a Pet

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Pets related image Photo: Getty Images

It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. I fumble in the darkness to the kitchen for a glass of milk. As the light from the refrigerator shocks my tired eyes, I slowly remember I am alone in the dark. The glass of milk doesn’t comfort me as the memories of previous sleepless nights replay in my mind. For eleven years, if I awoke in the middle of the night my cat was always by my side, rubbing his soft fur against my legs and keeping me company.

Our family pet has been gone for several weeks but continues to be on our minds daily. It has been difficult for my husband and me; losing this family member. And equally as hard for our kids.

For the first few days, it was quite emotional. The kids cried, I cried, we all cried together. Our youngest, who just turned three, talks about our cat frequently. Sometimes completely out of nowhere he will say that he misses him. Then, matter-of-factly will tell me, “I miss him because he died. He died. Our cat died. We all miss him.” Our middle son gets quite annoyed when this happens. “Why do you have to keep saying that!” He never seems to want to talk about him and gets upset when any of us makes reference to him being gone. Our oldest son is not as verbal about his feelings but will occasionally, privately tell me he has trouble sleeping without his fuzzy friend by his side.

One afternoon the boys and I were having a Lego building marathon in the room of our oldest son. As we chatted and searched for building pieces, I began looking on my son’s nightstand. Among the Lego pieces and alarm clock, I found one small piece of dried cat food. I asked my son if he knew that there was a piece of cat food by his clock. Slowly, he lifted his head to look at me with teary eyes and simply nodded his head.

I try to tell the kids funny and cute stories about our cat. We look at pictures and remind ourselves how lucky we were to have the time that we did with him. He was twelve years old. He was a wonderful cat. He was a loving, social, friendly and patient pet. No one could ever take his place.
Death and loss is a part of life. Kids need to grieve. It always hurts to lose someone you love.

Edited by Shannon Koehle

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