I remember some of the saddest days growing up were the days after losing a favorite pet. This past weekend, we lost one of our cockatiels, Grey. He was the sweetest of the pair, by far. He was the only one that would let Blake rub his head and whistle “pretty bird.” Now, the other bird, Beck, is grieving the loss of his cellmate. Blake, on the other hand, is kind of oblivious to it. I’m sure he won’t remember Grey because he is just now a year old. They say your earliest memories are from the time you were around two years old. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about what we will do when he is of age and a pet dies.
I have heard so many stories about handling the death of a child’s pet. Everything from “he went to live on a farm with a lot of other animals” to “he is just sleeping.” Some parents have even found replacement animals that look like the dead one, and quickly make the switch while the kids are away. I even heard a story of a child that had a Beta fish for a few years before realizing that it wasn’t the same one. In fact, it was about the eighth one. The parents kept replacing it every time to avoid having to explain what happened. I’m not judging. I may have to do the same thing one day. For now, I just tell him that the birdie went bye-bye and he is content.
How do you handle the death of a pet with your child? Do you buy a replacement and wait for the child to notice, or do you tell your child what really happened?