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Dr. Bonnie
Dr. Bonnie, Psychologist and RN
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  35 years experience counseling children and families
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What is the proper way to handle a pets pre-death to tell a

Customer Question

What is the proper way to handle a pets pre-death to tell a 10 year old girl. She has cared for her horse for six years. Should see him before and after he passes or what to do, preplanning? HELP SOON!
Flip lives at our ranch, Lauren visits everyother weekend. We have not told her Flip is failing.
Thank you, Gram
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Bonnie replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for consulting JA,

Sorry you are going through this difficult time with a beloved pet. The best way to handle this with the 10 year old is to be honest as soon as possible. She should see him before his death. Whether or not she sees him after his death should be her choice. Just tell her in simple terms exactly what is happening.

If she wants to, the little girl should be involved in a memorial service. She should help plan this memorial and be a part of it. The memorial should be in line with her families religious beliefs. If heaven is within there belief system, do some symbolic things at the memorial such as release balloons to him in heaven.

This is a good time to teach her about the cycles of life. The following book is recommended to assist.

Here is the website for the famous Rainbow Bridge poem as well. Little girl may want to write her own poem or draw a picture.

Finally, here is a guideline written by the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry which is very to the point and helpful.

I hope these are helpful resources and good luck....Warm regards,