5 Tips to Help Kids Cope with Loss of a Pet or Any Loved One
How do you say goodbye to someone you love, whether it’s a pet or a grandparent? Dealing with death can be difficult and painful for grownups, let alone for little children. In one of the newest books in the Freeda the Frog series, Freeda the Frog Says Farewell to Her Fish (Mascot Books; ISBN: 978-1-64307-385-2), author Nadine Haruni presents a story focusing on the loss of the frog family’s beloved pet fish, Goldie, to help families struggling with loss and the often-overwhelming feelings surrounding it.
Whether reeling from the unexpected loss of a pet or a person—or facing the approaching death of an ailing or elderly family member—parents and kids can find comfort in sitting together and reading about how parents Freeda and Samson helped their tadpoles cope with Goldie’s death.
Haruni offers these tips to help parents “struggling to find the right words or actions to express their feelings or condolences” when they are explaining loss or the grieving process to a child:
1. Use simple, direct words to talk about death. Give your child a moment to take your words in, and prepare them for rituals or events that will happen.
2. Give them an age-appropriate book. Relatable characters can help kids explore the feelings that they will likely be experiencing.
3. Listen, provide comfort, and encourage them to talk. Remind them that you are here, and it’s okay to cry or openly discuss their feelings with you or a professional.
4. Remind them that loved ones aren’t forgotten. Encourage them to talk or write about treasured memories with their loved one who passed to keep them close.
5. Teach them an appropriate condolence gesture. A hand-written condolence note, food or flowers for the grieving family may be appropriate.
“Hugs, sharing memories, having a ceremony to say goodbye and letting yourself cry are all ways to ease mourning, heal and teach your kids at an early age how to do the right thing, be a good friend and prepare for inevitably going through loss,” Haruni says.
Speaking directly to kids in a way that’s reassuring, Freeda the Frog Says Farewell to Her Fish continues Nadine Haruni’s mission: helping families of all species, one tadpole at a time.
About the Author
Nadine Haruni is an award-winning children’s book author and a mother to five kids in a blended family. Her Freeda the Frog series follows a frog family as they go through various real-life “stuff”—from a parent’s divorce and remarriage to adjusting to a blended family, moving, starting a new school and meeting the gay family on the lily pad next door. Beyond helping children who are going through these situations, her books aim to help all kids recognize that no two families look the same. Leveled to align with National Educational Standards, all five Freeda the Frog books have received the Gold Mom’s Choice Award for Excellence in the family-friendly picture book category, as well as a Readers’ Favorite 5-star review. Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door was honored with a Royal Dragonfly Book Award in the LGBTQ category. Haruni is a frequent guest on parenting podcasts, aiming to reach as many families as possible on her mission to encourage an environment of awareness, empathy and inclusivity. Along with writing and parenting, she is a practicing attorney and a certified yoga instructor. She lives in Bergen County, New Jersey, with her family.