For many children, the loss of a pet is their first encounter with grief and loss. While often it might look as though they are handling their grief in stride, in truth it is confusing and painful. Children are easily distracted and their emotional attention span is shorter than that of an adult, but they do need the freedom and safety of a loving support network to process their questions, fears, sorrows and doubts.
As a mom myself, and having very recently watched my kids deal with the loss of our precious golden retriever, I am aware of the apparent randomness of how and when children express their grief. It comes up at the most unexpected of times, and often at night before bed. The activities in this resource are effective to guide a child through this time, and give them the opportunity to express their feelings for as long as they experience them. Grief has no specific timeline.
Your classroom can also offer a much needed safe haven to a struggling child. These activities can serve to generate supportive, meaningful discussion. Students who haven’t experienced the loss of a pet can learn from watching others persevere through trial, and others who have lost a family member or loved one to illness, divorce or another tragic circumstance are able to relate in their own way.
This resource offers a stepping off point as you try to assist a student in processing through their feelings. I've included a variety of clip art from wonderful TpT designers to try and include common household and classroom pets:
dogs, cats, goldfish, guinea pigs, rabbits, snakes, bearded dragons, horses, and turtles.
There are a variety of blank pages for children to add their own thoughts and illustrations, and even photos. The goal is to help them see that grief can be ongoing and that it's ok to have feelings for a while, and how to handle it when they do.
The instructions for the origami Keepsake Box were generously donated by Naomi Swyers. See her store here.
I sincerely hope this brings comfort and healing.
Tags: pet / pets / pet clip art / paw prints / dogs / cats / bunny / rabbit / horses / grief / loss / death of pet / Shiloh / Hachiko / Rainbow Bridge / Where the Red Fern Grows / Old Yeller / guinea pigs / snakes / bearded dragon / turtle / salamander / coping skills /