This monthly column is to help parents, grandparents, and teachers introduce children to spiritual topics in the context of prayer. It includes a prayer for adults, one for children and adults to share, and a short affirmation for children to remember and take with them.
Helping Children Grieve a Pet
When the time comes to say goodbye to our beloved friend, it’s hard. They have been there with us as part of our family, a true loved one. We remember all the companionship they gave us. The way they played. The way they let us hold them. The ways they let us care for them. The ways they made us laugh. These are the gifts they have given us. The gifts of love. The opportunity to give love and receive it. This is the gift God gives to us too.
The sadness we feel is natural and part of the grieving process. We need to feel that sadness. We’ve lost a friend. Crying or feeling a bit lost and lonely is okay. There is an empty space where our pet once was.
How can we support our children as they experience loss, perhaps for the first time in their lives? How can we help guide them as they grieve?
In Unity, a helpful saying is “There is no spot where God is not.” We affirm that God is present in all circumstances, and we demonstrate this truth as we let go and affirm God’s presence here and now. God is love, after all, and there was plenty of love between us and our pets.
So take the time to be with your child and talk with them about the loss. Be available and honest when they ask questions. You may find that you have a few questions of your own. The bond and love between you and your child can grow stronger as you openly face loss as a natural part of life. In Unity, we refer to death as a transition for a reason. No living thing ever dies; it just moves on and fully into Spirit.
It can also be helpful to do something tangible to honor the love and memory of your pet. A few ways to do this are:
- Create an altar in your pet’s memory, and include a picture, a favorite toy, their collar, or their food or water dish.
- Light a candle for them as a symbol of the light they brought into your lives.
- Draw a picture of them.
- Write a story about a fond memory or experience you had with them.
- Say a prayer for them each day.
Grieving the loss of a pet takes time. And space. Lots and lots of loving space. It gives both us and our children the chance to feel not only sadness but also the true power of love.
A Prayer for the Loss of a Pet for Children
Here and now, I relax and bring my attention fully onto God. God is peace and comfort in all circumstances. In my sadness and grief, I know that God is with me. God is love. I let that eternal love fill my being and comfort me now and always.
A Shared Family Prayer for the Loss of a Pet
We take a moment now to close our eyes and breathe. As we do so, we bring to mind our wonderful friend and let ourselves experience any feelings that arise. We love them. We will miss them. We know and affirm they are enfolded in the peace and love of God, and we are too.