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Losing a Friend

The passing of a beloved family pet is especially stressful to young children experiencing their first significant loss, notes Dr. Diane Pomerance, a local grief recovery specialist and author of the children’s book When Your Pet Dies.

Pomerance created a unique grief-counseling program for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Texas nine years ago after the death of her beloved Alaskan Malamute/Lab mix, Caesar. The Dallas/Fort Worth program – the only one of its kind in the area – offers free counseling and grief support meetings for anyone who’s lost a pet.

Saying goodbye to a beloved animal companion opens an opportunity to introduce children to the concepts of birth, death and the circle and cycles of life, Pomerance notes. “Children should be encouraged to mourn, honor and celebrate their pet’s life – and if, and when, they are ready, to adopt another wonderful animal companion,” she observes.

Pomerance suggests that parents help children understand that their feelings are normal. Try holding a funeral or memorial service and eulogizing the pet with friends and family members. And, whenever possible, be factual and concrete about the circumstance of the pet’s passing.

She also encourages families to read books together and allow kids to express their feelings by writing or drawing the pet, as well as creating a photo album.

More Info: SPCA of Texas Pet Grief Hotline 214/461-5131.