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Friday night we came home to find our cat on the road dead. My kids saw him lying on the floor. We buried him that night but my son (9) in particular hasnt handled it well. He hasnt been sleeping for two nights and came to my room saying he is scared of the dark. I decided to sleep with him but today he has been very emotional and crying. He keeps making up scenarios in his head and making himself upset. He asks what he would do if dad died etc. I need some advice not sure what else I can do.


Posted by seryem, 30th October 2016


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  • Tell him death is a part of life, but that when people die, they remain in your heart so you are never truly without them. We just have to search our heart to talk to them.


  • Your son has probably grieved for a pet that same as we do for people. No doubt the cat didn’t look nice and that probably what he keeps “seeing” and remembering. One consolation is that your children were able to say goodbye to their cat. I just re-read the article and realised it is not a recent one. It is one of the featured ones though


  • The death of a pet can be traumatic for a child and you’ll see your child will go through stages of grieve. The death of a pet can be a good preparation on the death of a person. Death is often pushed away, it’s something we don’t like, but we have to face that one day we all die (pet or human). Let you child grieve, talk about it, let him cry, tell stories about your pet to each other, use symbols and don’t hide your own feelings to your children (give them the example feelings are ok and may be expressed)


  • Oh. I
    :( we have recently farewelled 3 pets over the course of 2 years. It’s very distressing for everyone. My daughter in particular is quite broken. She is having counselling and hopefully will work her way through it


  • This is very sad for your children to witness and I hope they are now okay.


  • Yes I have considered and have spoken to the school counsellor already.


  • Would you maybe consider some counselling?


  • Thank you for all your responses. He told me yesterday that he was afraid because the scene kept coming to his mind. Unfortunately both my children saw him in that state when we arrived home that night. We have burried him in the garden and they have said their goodbyes. They visit him everymorning. We are putting together a memory bix with some of his items and pictures. I personally cant stand seeing his items it makes me so upset seeing them. Is it too soon to pack his things do you think?


  • This is normal, we just went through something similar, but with our dog, we explained he was very sick and now he has gone up to be a star in the sky.
    Look on the internet for some helpful advice


  • It is always sad when a loved pet dies, but unfortunately children process this death differently to adults. I would say that your son is now thinking that he (or you) will die too when he’s not with you. I’m glad you buried your pet in the garden and hopefully marked his grave, but your son needs to be convinced that he’s not responsible for the death, that the pet died because of age (or other, but don’t make up a fairy tale), but that neither he, nor you, are likely to die in the near future. Again give the facts relevant to age, but don’t make up a fairy tale that will in time be destroyed by the mocking of childhood friends….


  • When we had our cat pts (she was in renal failure, was in a lot of pain, and would not have lasted much longer), we had our 3yo son with us. We told him that Fudge had to go for her “Forever Sleep”, and that she wouldn’t be waking up again. He found it a bit hard at first, as her body was still with us (we had her cremated), but he seems to understand that Fudge was gone, and that her body was empty. Perhaps sit down with your son and talk to him about what has happened, and the fact that the body you buried was an ‘empty shell’, and that your cat has passed on to The Rainbow Bridge (if you believe in an afterlife).


  • Maybe check out the normal ingredients of grief that people go through. I think there are ‘stages’ that happen in no particular order (something like anger, denial, acceptance). eg http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html .. I’m not sure where being scared of the dark and worrying about people dying fits in. Maybe it is more general anxiety (rather than mourning the loss of the pet) that has been triggered by the pet, realizing how vulnerable we are to random events etc. So perhaps also do somethings that help with anxiety: continue to “be there” for him, emphasize support networks that society has for worst case situations, and point out that thinking about the worst that can happen is really worrying (not an actual problem that needs solving now; and worry never helps). Perhaps eventually give perspective to help him start to think outside his situation (eg look at some stories about Syrian children refugees who’ve left their homes and families -and pets no doubt – and help him empathize with people who have real problems that he is just worried about)


  • Make sure you keep the lines of communication open, have somewhere they can go to talk to the deceased pet and always let them know that God is taking care of the animal just as he takes care of your family everyday


  • We buried our dog after it died in a box in the back yard and put a little plaque on the fence next to it. We had a proper burial with everyone saying something about our beloved pet and how she was with God and that God would now be taking care of her so she was no longer in pain and c all of us.ould never be hurt again. If the kids ever wanted to be close or talk to the dog they would go over to where she laid and talk to her. There are also books you can get from the library to help with this situation. But the main thing was that the kids got to say goodbye and knew she was in God’s hands and would never be hurt again just like they (the kids) were in our hands with God looking after


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