Saying Goodbye to a Pet

When difficult events happen in our children’s lives – whether it’s going off to kindergarten, moving to a new town, going through a divorce or experiencing loss – comfort and a sense of understanding can often be found in the simple words of a picture book. I use children’s books to explain things to my kids in a way that I can’t always articulate. Books can give us the right words weaved into a beautiful story that children can relate to. When kids are upset or confused, they want to feel like they are not the only ones in their situation. Reading a story about what they are experiencing can alleviate fears, answer questions and be a great starting point for a conversation.

It has been a little over two weeks since we had to say goodbye to our sweet dog, Bailey. DSC_0989 He was twelve and my first “baby”. Bailey was there with the scan0022arrival of each child, growing up right along side them. There is such an empty space in our family now. Not just from the lonely corner in the dining room where his dog bed used to be, but also in the little moments each day that he filled-up. It’s eating the last bite of a banana because he’s not there to catch it in the air. It’s using the ice maker and not having him appear from nowhere to beg for a cube. It’s starting the mornings without him trotting down the driveway to retrieve our newspaper scan0003(and sometimes the neighbors newspaper!). It’s returning home and not finding him there to greet us with some random thing in his mouth. Did I mention he was a labrador retriever? He loved to eat and loved to bring us things! What a good boy he was. The entire family is missing him.

0385746385.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_The book that has been comforting for my children (and myself) is “Up in Heaven” by Emma Chichester Clark. Arthur and his dog, Daisy, have a special bond. But Daisy is getting older and has a difficult time keeping up with him. One night she goes to sleep and wakes up in heaven. The book portrays heaven as a beautiful place where dogs don’t feel old anymore and can run around with lots of friends. Daisy is happy, but she watches over her boy Arthur and sees that he is missing her. Arthur asks questions that kids might typically have like, “Why did she die?” Daisy learns that she can send Arthur dreams to comfort him. The text is simple, but perfect and the illustrations are beautiful and bright. “Up in Heaven” makes you feel that the special bond with your pet continues even though they are gone from Earth.

Here are some other good books that deal with the loss of a pet:
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Are there any other children’s books that you’ve found helpful in dealing with saying goodbye to a pet?





5 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to a Pet

  1. Debra Penn

    I was sorry to hear about Bailey. We recently lost our cat. After the initial bawling of the 5-year old, we read Cat Heaven. Ever since, we get an occasional “Kitty died; Kitty is in heaven” when she is speaking to someone. The book seemed to answer enough questions in her head, that she doesn’t seem to be questioning the process at all. So glad the vet recommended it that day, and I was able to pick it up at the library before breaking the news. Books can do wonderful things!

    1. Betsy G

      I love what you’ve written and couldn’t agree more! What a terrific description! I use books regularly in my clinical practice and have found such success. Bibliotherapy at it’s best! Thank you for the fantastic post!

      And hugs to all of you. You completely captured the essence of Bailey. He will be missed dearly.

  2. cathy busch

    I remember the morning our 141/2 yr old border collie left this earth. We had planned to have him put down on Saturday and our son Joe was coming home from college to assist. Friday a.m. Brandy looked at my husband and said goodbye. I came home from kiss and ride and he was still with us 15 minutes later he was gone. I cried like a baby in the shower the girls(highschoolers) stayed home from school. When I got to school my principal, Beth,l asked me why I was there. I said I had to be with the kids. It was so hard and I still miss him even though we have other canine members of our family.

  3. Amy

    God bless your sweet Bailey. I am so sorry for your loss, but I KNOW he is in heaven with my little Lady — having the grandest time!

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