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December 14, 2019

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When it's time to say goodbye: guiding your child through pet loss

September 28, 2017

1. Scrapbook

As a nurse, I believe in the “work of grieving,” and using one’s heart and hands makes this process concrete for a child. I printed pictures of Max, bought very simple scrapbooks, and asked the girls to make memory books. Many healthy tears were turned into treasured keepsakes in the weeks following his death.


2. Hold a ceremony

Holding a pet funeral is a very personal decision. Our daughters were too young to understand what a funeral was, and my invented ceremony was a disaster. At ages 9 and 11, Beluga-the-Hamster’s ceremony rivaled that of a sitting statesman. Our daughters buried a tiny casket in the pouring down rain while singing.


4. Make a memorial

Our family tradition is to plant something beautiful in the yard. We have climbing roses, weeping willows and flowers, all planted in memory of a person or animal. Our daughters also built a small memorial in the yard. Again, it was nothing formal, as it was far more meaningful to them that they made it themselves.


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