Having to cope with the loss of a beloved pet is something many parents wish that they could protect their children from. For many children the loss of any pet whether it be a dog, cat, or a small goldfish is often their first experience with death. It can be very frightening and confusing time for children as they struggle with their own fears about dying and often blame themselves, their parents or the veterinarian for the loss of their pet.
Often parents have a hard time finding the right words to answer questions and allay fears their children might have about death and the loss of their pet. This is where a good children’s book written about the loss of a pet can be an invaluable tool for parents to help their children deal with the death of their pet in a way that they can relate to and understand.To help parents chose a book to help their children deal with their grief here are my top five books that deal with the death of a pet.
Top Five Children’s Books That Deal With The Death Of A Pet
1. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Erik Blegvad
This story is about a little boy who’s pet cat Barney dies. His mother says that they can have a funeral for Barney and that he can tell ten good things about Barney. The little boy spends a lot of time remembering the good things about his pet which helps him forget about his grief. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney shows children how to focus on the good memories after a death and opens the door to the healing process.It adequately address the feeling children have about death and how they learn and grow from those feelings and will open up dialog between children and adults about what happens when things we love die.
2. I’ll Always Love You written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
This book tells the story of a boy and his dog Elfie as they both grow and mature together from puppy and infant to boy and adult dog. At first Elfie is full of pep but as she gets older she gets slower and slower until one morning she doesn’t even wake up. After burying his pet the boy is offered anew puppy which he refuses saying that he’s not ready for a pet but when he does he will tell that pet I’ll always love you, just as he told Elfie every night.
3. The Legend of Rainbow Bridge written by William N. Britton and illustrated by Dandi Palmer
This beautifully written book tells about the legend of Rainbow Bridge a place where our animal friends go when they pass. The story tells of what will happen there and answers the question will I ever see my pet again, something that my own children have asked me when there pet rabbit died. Children are very concerned about what happens to their pet once they pass and I think that The Legend of Rainbow Bridge does an excellent job of allaying children’s uncertainties and anxiety over where there pet goes and what happens there.
4.Goodbye Mousie written by Robie H Harris and illustrated by Jan Omerod
Goodbye Mousie tells the story of a young boy who wakes up to find that his pet mouse doesn’t move when he tickles him on the tummy. At first he thinks hes still asleep until his parents explain that his pet mousie has died. The book follows the boy has he goes through the different emotions we all feel when losing a loved one including denial, anger and sadness. The boys father gently explains death to his child and helps him make preparations for mousies funeral. While picking things to bury Mousie with the little boy relieves the good times he and mousie had together. This book is an excellent choice for helping children to understand that the mixed emotions they are feeling are perfectly normal and will pass in time.
5. When A Pet Dies written by Fred Rogers
When A Pet Dies is a book that helps and encourages children to express their feelings about the death of a pet while reassuring them that grieving is a natural thing and healing thing to do.In a very honest and direct way Mr.Rogers lets children know that even know it hurts to think of their beloved pet in time that feeling will pass and they will be able to think of their pet fondly. Some readers may find that its a bit too direct but I feel that honesty with children is always the best way to go and would recommend it to parents whose children have lost a pet.
Whether your child has recently lost a pet or you just want a starting place to start discussing death with your child each of these five books that deal with the loss of a pet are an excellent way to get a dialog about death started between a parent and their child.