Helping your child deal with death

my granddaughters drawing of Mia ©salzano
Friday, I made the very difficult decision to have my long time pet companion put to sleep.  Mia my sheltie dog.  The decision was harder because my granddaughter was very attached to her and had not been able to be around her very long.  This was because I did not live nearby until this year.

Helping your child deal with death is vitally important.  My two youngest children had to deal with the death of their dad.  Well, my youngest was so small she did not know her dad but she dwelt with the reality of having no "dad" in her younger years.  But my son had a heavy blow at a impressionable age of about 9 yrs old.  Since many children have to deal with this aspect wether a pet or loved one I decided to write this short post.

In this case, I arranged the death of my dog at a time that would allow my granddaughter to come and see her first.  To say her goodbyes. and gave her dad the time to speak and prepare her.  Of course she was very grieved and shed many tears.  This very painful thing called death is a fact of life.  While here at my apt, my granddaughter drew that picture above.  She expresses herself in art like my family so often does.

Growing up on farms and ranches we were surrounded by death regularly.  Raising chickens, pigs, cows, horses, dogs , cats, etc is a life and death occurrence continually.  But not so many people died more animals died.  I know that in some of our cities it is people that are dying like crazy from other people which is a horrible thing for children to have to learn so young.  Yet again this is the world we live in right now.

If one does not have a foundation of God in your family it is impossible to have solid hope for the future in regards to death and resurrection.  The truth about these details is so important for a solid ground work in little minds that gives them hope and confidence in the their future and the ones they love.  We cannot just have death and think that is all there is to life. We live and then we die. Done.  With God we know we have hope.  I know I shall see my dad again when he is resurrected to life again!  I know that when I am made a spiritual being in God's kingdom that IF i want to I could make my favorite pets live again.  I do not have this as a promise from God but knowing God after all these years I think this is highly possible.  However I also know that by the time I am a spirit being that that world will be so incredible more advanced than now in the physical world I prob. will not do that because I will have no "need" to bring my pets back.

The reason my granddaughter grieves so much over this dog was that Mia provided a need to her.  She was afraid of dogs until Mia.  She needed a companion who she could play with and the dog was perfect around her.  She could lead her, play around and Mia would just be at her side.  A friend since she is a only child.  Mia gave her confidence.  Dogs can do that.

Since I have a short time to write this today here are some vital things to help your child deal with death:

1. Don't  lie to them.  Don't tell them someone is just away or ignore and pretend it did not happen. They need to know the truth.  If the death of the pet or human was sudden just gently go to a quiet place and explain that what happened in words a child can understand. Explain the why the death happened. Sometimes we do not why.  A sudden heart attack is exactly what it is but why they died?  Tell them the physical. Their heart gave out.  It quit like a engine on a car only it could not be fixed.  Death is like being asleep but you do not awake from it until Christ Returns.
2. Let them grieve.  They might be angry and take it out on you at first.  But just hold them and let them accept your words. Give them time. Let them know they are loved and it is alright to cry or be angry. Esp make sure they know it is going to be ok.  They will not be alone.
3. Give them hope.  Tell them the story of God's promises and hope.  That death is not the end for people and that maybe since God is all love that in the new world that Christ will bring back the pet to life after He returns to rule this world.  God has the power to do that.It is hope.
 I told my son and daughter growing up that they would see their dad again. That God has a plan for their dad to come to life and have a chance to live God's ways.  That by knowing God and living for Christ today they then can be there when their dad is resurrected and he seeing them will be comforted and will know that living for and with Christ is the way he should follow too!  This knowledge was what helped them to keep to the life of God's ways.  It gave them purpose and hope.  
4. Give them time. All people grief in different stages.  It can take some time.  There are the stages of great overwhelming sorrow, a time of anger, A time of acceptance and a time of moving on.
When Bob my husband died my son and I made some wooden airplanes to hang in the hall.  Bob was a small airplane rebuilder.  So we put the airplanes up that my son helped paint and build, and then we hung up some pictures of Bob and us together.  This wall of memories stayed up for awhile.  We could see them, talk about Bob and let him go slowly.  I eventually took them all down.  We did not want to stay in that stage.  When the time was right we all moved on but we never forgot.
5. Be truthful about who the person was or pet.  
A pet is a pet.  They live only a short life.  Small ones can live to about 14 or so.  Large dogs can live to 11 apx.  Cats longer sometimes.  Rabbits are short lived.  Birds short lived for the most part though some live as long as we do.  Let your children  know this.
People however have a average of 70 years for men and more for some women but people are different.  We are created by God for God.  We are created for a life beyond this physical life.  We are to be actual children of God and have great potential!  Telling your children how special they are and what Great things God has in mind for not just them but the people who die in their lives give them hope and future.  You can only teach these things if you know them and live the life of promise like Christ taught us.  When you do your children and you yourself will be able to correctly deal with death and suffering.  Because we know God has a plan and this temporary life now is just that, Temporary.  Greater things are ahead.  Wonderful new life and we need to keep on learning and being kind to each other.  Have courage and inspire others.

©mia who died august 4th 2017 Salzano photos 

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