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Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 792
Experience:  Specializing in mental health counseling
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hi my cat got run over and died instantly yesterday night its

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hi my cat got run over and died instantly yesterday night its sad news and he wasn,t even two . my daughter has suffered the loss of two cats and two dogs within a year that belonged to her and her i have to tell her that kiki our cat at my home is dead. do you think that its ok for children to be there for burying the cat.she is nearly five and has seen this before with my ex partner two died with old age one died of an infection and one got run over.please help because i want to cusion it from my daughter, but maybe cushioning will prevent proper griefing, how many times she has induired this bothers me tho. do you suggest being really open and honest about it all as she has experienced more than your average kid?would you suggest allowing her to stroke him and seeing the burial, or bury him first and have a memorial? your advice is greatfully recieved
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for your question. I'm happy to help you today.

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your cat, and I understand your concerns about your daughter - especially in light of all of the losses that she has dealt with over the past year. There's no "best" way to handle these types of situations. The way children understand and interpret death is different at different ages, so if your daughter is almost five right now, she probably does not have a complete understanding of death yet, even though she has had all of these recent losses. However, I think it can be very cathartic to have a memorial ceremony (which can include burying the cat) so she can say goodbye to him. The urge to cushion the death of a pet is tempting, but it's important to be open and honest about what has happened (in an age-appropriate way)- especially since this type of loss has happened before - and allow her space and time to grieve as well as to ask any questions about it and talk about her feelings with you. You might be interested in reading this article from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry about children and handling the loss of a pet:

As far as whether she should be allowed to stroke him - again, there's no right answer to this question, but in my opinion, it probably is best to have the burial and a memorial afterwards, and avoid allowing her to stroke him, especially if there's any type of physical damage to his body from being hit by the car. Afterwards, you might want to spend some time with her helping her design her own memorial for him - perhaps a drawing or some other form of artwork or writing a goodbye letter to him that will help her remember him.

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you need additional assistance. Best wishes.
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