I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was four, so I know no other way to be in the world than with grief in my heart. It’s “old hat” to me, it’s just a part of me that seems like it’s always been there. I’m in an odd way, comfortable with it, so it somehow brings me peace to be able to comfort others who are struggling with grief and loss.
With that said, I guess it makes a lot of sense that I would end up starting a pet memorials company (peternity.com). It’s just not what I ever imagined that I would end up doing. But I like that about life. The unexpected. The surprises.
In 1970 when I lost my mom, things were different and families didn’t have a lot of options for grief support. We got through it somehow and I think I turned out alright, but it wasn’t easy and I wouldn’t wish the loss of a parent or family member on any child. Lucky for me and my sister, we have remarkable Father.
I’ve always wanted to find a way to reach out to children who have suffered significant losses and to somehow help them. Being that most children’s first experience with death is through the loss of their pets, I decided that this would be a wonderful place to start.
There are many other creative ways that you can help your child to take an active part in honoring the life of their pet, and without spending a lot of money. At Peternity, we’ve created a special product called Kidoodlyrocks to help grieving children. Kidoodlyrocks are pet grave markers onto which we engrave children’s drawings of their pets. Engaging children in the creative process really helps to shift their focus from the pain and the sadness to something; something fun, honorable and meaningful.
The best ways for children to work through grief is by expressing their feelings – through writing, drawing, dancing, anything creative that helps them to get in touch with their feelings and get their feelings out and expressed.
Children are empowered when given the opportunity to help create the memorial to their dear pet. When children have something creative to focus on their focus shifts and they stop dwelling on the sadness and the pain so much. This makes space in their heart for some healing to begin.
Creative activities also give you the parent or caregiver an opportunity to talk about what your child has created and the feelings behind the creations. Having a project in motion gives you a forum, to help your child/children address their sadness. You can sit with them and draw them out of their sadness and confusion by asking questions about the animal they loved so much: how they felt about them, their memories, what made them laugh, etc.
You can be the impetus to help your child create any number of types of memorials. Here are some ideas:
- A special box that you decorate together that can hold all of your pet’s treasures like the collar, tags, photos, favorite toys.
- Flowers that you plant together in the yard in your pet’s memory, maybe in your cat’s favorite spot to lie in the sun, or your dog’s favorite spot to lounge in the yard.
- A book that you create together that chronicles all of your favorite stories, memories and photos of your pet.
These precious shared moments, dedicated to encouraging your child to express their joys, laughter and sadness through words and drawings, can work wonders with recovery for both of you. You will also be helping your children to lay a foundation for life, a foundation that will help to support them in dealing with other losses that they will experience later in life.