what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

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BeccaO
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what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby BeccaO » Mon May 08, 2017 8:56 am

Hello,
I am not sure if this is the right place to ask this but I hope others have been in the same situation. After a short period of illness which our son knows about though how much he understands I don't know, I took our 17 year old cat to the vets this morning and sadly found out that he had kidney failure and made the difficult decision to have him put down. I thought about getting our little boy to say bye bye before we left but as I still had hope that maybe there was something to be done I didn't want to confuse him. I plan to be honest about what has happened (That Puck was very very old and very very poorly and has died so we won't be able to see or play with him any more and mummy is very sad) but I don't know whether he should see the body and say bye bye and be part of burying him in the garden or not (my tradition is to get a nice plant to commemorate and so he will live on through the plant). Does anyone have any advice about how to explain this to a small child, he was his favourite cat (the others avoid him like the plague) and I don't want him to just disappear, but I don't want to scare him or upset him unduely either or make him worry when people he know are ill. We are not religious so there is no seeing him again in heaven option.
Many thanks, apologies again if this is the wrong place,
Becca

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Re: what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby TheCatsMum » Mon May 08, 2017 9:29 am

Hi Becca

If our daughter had been that age when we'd lost one of ours, I'd have done the same as you explain Puck was very old and very poorly. I'd then go on to say that because of this Puck has to sleep forever and he'll be going to heaven. If you're going to place him in the garden, maybe explain he's going to stay asleep somewhere he would love and then he'll go up to heaven. This might not be right for you to say, but it may help put it into your own words. I know you're trying to ease the pain for him now and in the future, but unfortunately it's part of the learning curve in growing up and they'll all react differently. You're going to have times in the next couple of days when your really upset, so try and pick a time to talk when you can be strong (although it won't hurt your son to see tears as he'll have different emotions himself and hopefully realise he can express them). x

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Re: what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby BeccaO » Mon May 08, 2017 9:54 am

would you have let her see him? be part of the burial?

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Re: what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby bobbys girl » Mon May 08, 2017 11:12 am

Hi Becca,

sorry to hear about Puck. That's a difficult one. I do have faith and I do believe in an afterlife, so it's easier for me. But I do think the idea of The Rainbow Bridge is a nice one. Somewhere where all our lost pets go to play and one day be reunited with us. Even if you do not believe yourself, it may be a nice thing for a little one to think about. When he is older he can make up his own mind. But to me Rainbow Bridge is a nice way to think of things.

As for seeing Puck - when my old dog, Bonnie was pts at the age of 17 1/2 she looked so peaceful I would have had no problems letting a little one see her. But when my darling Tommy died it was traumatic and, without going into details, it upsets me even now just thinking about it.

A plant is a lovely idea. Bonnie is buried under a beautiful rose called 'Bonica' and Tommy under a Heuchera called 'Thomas'.

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Re: what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby TheCatsMum » Mon May 08, 2017 1:31 pm

It's a hard one as to whether I'd have let her see him, but in reality, I think yes but that would be based on her personality - she was and still is very matter of fact about everything, she took Grandad dying just before her third totally in her stride and just accepted it happened. Her language skills were well ahead at that time so she probably understood more than some. Another child could be different. You've probably made your decision, but do get support from your partner if you have one and talk this over.

I'd have certainly asked her she was wanted to be part of the burial to say goodbye. I should have thought about rainbow bridge - that could be a positive thing for your son knowing his beloved pet has gone somewhere so nice.

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Re: what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby vanilla » Mon May 08, 2017 8:28 pm

Hi Becca,

Definitely be honest about what has happened. I wouldn't mention that he will be sleeping forever in case he gets scared of going to sleep. Ask him if he wants to see and say goodbye to the cat.

I had to put my 10yr old cat to sleep a month ago. Everybody said goodbye to him before he went to the vets. When we came home I was very upset and sat cradling his body, crying my eyes out. My 5yr old watched me and got very upset as he saw me crying. He asked a lot of questions and wanted to know what was going on. My 7yr old just carried on watching TV and didn't really show any interest.

We called the children over to see him being buried and say final goodbyes. Only my 5yr old came. He watched me get very emotional again when I laid him down, then he started crying too.

I'm not sure whether it was right or wrong for him to see it. He now has an understanding of death and gets emotional if he sees something lying very still and asks me if it is dead.

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Re: what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby BeccaO » Tue May 09, 2017 8:19 am

I told him last night as he asked to go see him, but he didn't really seem to understand and then started asking about crisps.. He did have 2 night terrors last night but I don't know if that is related, he didn't talk about it this morning at any rate. I haven't actually buried Puck as yet, I had barely slept Sunday night worrying and was too exhausted yesterday so I just found him a suitable box and put him in the spare fridge in the utility room as my husband is away till tonight. I am in 2 minds about letting him see him or be there for the burial, my husband thinks we should for closure, but he does have a very active imagination (he talks a lot about being scared of monsters and ghosts after seeing some in cartoons) so it needs very careful handing to avoid it playing on his mind.

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Re: what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby greenkitty » Tue May 09, 2017 11:35 am

How about trying to make it a happy event, what about if your son picks the spot where you bury Puck (maybe guided by you), perhaps a trip to the garden centre to buy a pretty plant to put next to where he's buried or in his favourite spot or a little ornament, perhaps when you bury him you could all say your happiest memory of him. It will undoubtedly be sad for you and your husband but perhaps this way it might be a little less sad x

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Re: what to tell a toddler (2 years 10 months) after the death of a pet

Postby BeccaO » Thu May 11, 2017 10:47 am

In the end we have opted to say that Puck was very old and his body stopped working and he died. I have tried to avoid talking about him being sick (though he remembers that he was sick last week) or going to sleep and not waking up as I don't want him to think that these things mean you will die :( I have buried him in the garden and we will all go tonight to pick a nice plant to go on top and remember him by..


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