One of the first and most painful memories of a child is the loss of a pet. Even the simple loss of a fish displays the fragile nature of life and that animals do not live forever and that death is part of life. This is critical learning lesson for children as they discover life is not forever and the startling conclusion that even mommy or daddy can die. This needs to be dealt with carefully as not to traumatize the child but to educate the child on the reality of death. Hiding the child from the loss of a pet, as if to replace the fish, is not a good idea. It only reinforces bad concepts regarding life and death itself. Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program as well as our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Progam
The article, “A dying fish, a beloved dog and a parenting lesson, of sorts”, by Theresa Vargas states
“I thought a dead fish was the worst thing my 5-year-old son could find in his new fish tank.
I was wrong.
An almost-dead fish is so much more unsettling. Its feeble flails give hope that it might somehow regain its strength.
Squishy, one of three GloFish we had bought weeks earlier, was lying on his side when my son saw him and noticed the slightest movement of his mouth. The tears came fast. He begged me to turn off all the lights and ordered his 3-year-old brother to stay quiet so that Squishy could sleep and maybe feel better in the morning. He asked, with pleading eyes, if I thought Squishy would be okay.
A more prepared parent would have used this moment to explain animal life spans. She would have pulled out a children’s book about how first pets never truly leave us. Several have been written under (silly-sounding but) child-comforting titles, such as “Paw Prints in the Stars” and “Saying Goodbye to Lulu.”
I admire that parent.”
To read the entire article, please click here
Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program and see if it matches your educational and professional needs.