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Pet Loss Books for Children
As I mentioned in a previous article, my childhood home was full of pets and I learned about death at a very young age. My hamsters, gerbils and fish -- all of whom spent most of their time in their own homes -- were never particularly close to me, and their deaths were saddening but not so devastating that a new hamster gerbil or fish couldn't quickly cheer me up. This type of semi-detached processing ended ubruptly at the age of 8 when my cat had to be put to sleep. I have still never quite gotten over the way my mother handled that situation and I will have more to say on that in a future article.
The same situation with my beloved dog proved to be even worse, and, as a 33 year old, I can tell you that the way a parent handles these things can leave a lasting, lasting effect on their children. The loss of a pet can and does affect different people in different ways -- this is the nature of grief. But you owe it to your child to at least try to help them through these situations, particularly if they're sensitive. At the same time, I realize that this task can be daunting for some, if not most, parents. Fortunately, there are some wonderful books available that make this task less stressful for parent and child -- that, and they can really be comforting in the right situations.
For Every Dog and Angel
The woman who wrote this book did so after losing her "forever dog" named Martha. She was inspired one day by a "vision" of her dog in the arms of an angel, which encouraged her to write this 30 page book about forever dogs and the bonds they share with their forever people. This is said to be helpful for adults as much as children, although the religious overtones may be an issue for some households.
For Every Cat an Angel
For Every Cat an Angel was written by the same woman who wrote the previous story. As you can imagine, it's similar in nature, but geared toward cats. In this case, her dog Jake found a litter of kittens and adopted them for her. As before, the idea that is every cat will be watched over by an angel until they can be reunited with their forever person again.
This 40 page illustrated children's book has 176 reviews on Amazon.com -- and 165 of those are 5 star ratings. That really ought to tell you something about Dog Heaven. Compared to the Maisy Mouse style of Lucy Cousins, this book is both playful and warm. It is also, above all, comforting. As much for the children as adults reading it to them.
Cat Heaven is similar to Dog Heaven in that it gives the reader great comfort when coping with the loss of their beloved kitty cat. 40 pages long and meant for children between the ages of 4 and 8, even a grown-up can appreciate the simplicity of her warm words of hope for those who need to know their cat is ok in the afterlife.
Mr. Rogers' When a Pet Dies
If your child is a fan of the late Mr. Rogers, this book may be a great comfort, indeed. Old though it is, Mr. Rogers' was probably the kindest, most sensitive man on the planet and utterly capable of handling even the most delicate issues in ways that no one else could.
I'll Always Love You
For children aged 4-8, the story I'll Always Love You is about a young boy who grows up with his dog Elfie. In Elfie's youth, she's energetic and playful, but as she gets older she starts to lose her vitality. Eventually the day comes when Elfie does not wake up. The whole family grieves and the boy decides that he doesn't want another puppy. Eventually he gets past that and learns to move on. Many parents agree that this book was very helpful when their children were coping with the loss of their own pets.
When Your Pet Dies
This book was written for children, but many adults seem to think it was meant for them, as well. 64 pages in length, When Your Pet Dies is presented in a devotional style and is accompanied by the colorful artwork of a 13 year old girl. It comes highly recommended by SPCA Grief counselors.
The 10th Good Thing About Barney
This is the story the passing of Barney, a boy's beloved cat. His mother tells him that they can have a funeral for Barney and that the boy should think of 10 positive things to say about the cat. Initially, the boy can only think of 9 -- but on the day following the funeral he discovers the tenth. This book invites parents and children to discuss what happens after death without forcing a particular religion into the picture.
Sad Isn't Bad
This book was written by a school counselor and doesn't specifically pertain to the loss of a pet; it can be used to relate and any type of loss and grief that a child may be experiencing. The book explains that the world is still safe despite how the child is feeling, and that their broken hearts will mend again.