Don't Flush the Fish! - What Parents Should Know When A Child's Pet Dies
By Deborah Antinory
Director of Therapy at the Davison Counseling Center in New Jersey, professional speaker and author
(BASKING RIDGE, N.J.) What can a parent do when their child’s
pet dies? Many parents buy pets for their children to teach them how to handle
responsibility, but when those pets die, it is often a child’s first experience
with death. The way that parents handle pet loss has long-reaching effects for
children as they begin to form beliefs and ways to cope with death.
"I say not to flush the fish because many children feel that the
way you treat their pet’s death is how you would treat them if they were really
ill or dying," says Deborah Antinori, licensed therapist and author of the
award-winning audio book Journey Through Pet Loss (ISBN # 0-9668848-1-7,
YokoSpirit Publications, ©2000, $19.95). "Parents need to show they care about
the pet because the child cares."
Pet loss provides a golden opportunity to teach anyspiritual,
religious and philosophical values parents have. It also opens up the door to
talk about other losses that have occurred that children may bring up — the
death of a grandmother or friend, or fears about the impending death of an
elderly family member. All of these areas of concern provide opportunities to
teach children about the most difficult aspects of life, those aspects they will
encounter with more frequency as they age
Tips on discussing pet loss with children:
- Give kids an opportunity to express their feelings through words or drawing
- Have a memorial service of some kind
- Take time to teach about the cycle of life with children’s books that deal with pet loss and read themwith your child
- Create a special pet memorial album of pictures
Antinori also recognizes that parents themselves are surprised
at how devastating it can be when their family pet dies and other people don’t
understand their grief.
"When it comes to the death of a pet, there’s a tendency for
people to minimize someone’s loss, because they don’t have animals and don’t
understand the attachment," says Antinori. "Through the book I wanted to offer
something to people who are being given insensitive advice such as, ‘It was only
an animal, you’ll get another one.’"
Elaine Froelich, Publicist
Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists, Inc.
2525 West Anderson Lane, Suite 540
Austin, Texas 78757
(voice) 512.478.2028 X 206