Their first experience with death may be the death of a pet. Instead of trying to replace that pet with a duplicate, be honest with your child. Allow them to grieve, cry, be sad, or angry. Support your child through the experience by sharing happy memories of the pet, read books to them about loss, and/or have a small ceremony to say goodbye to their pet. Saying goodbye and having a ceremony allows the child to have closer and begin to heal.
Similarly, when a friend or family member passes, reassure the child its okay to cry, its okay to be sad, and its ok to miss them. Share pictures and memories of their loved ones and allow them to say goodbye. Some cultures and/or families believe children should not attend funerals, such as my own growing up. This can leave the child with unresolved grief and make it difficult for them to heal. Give the child the option on if they would like to attend or not, remember they are more capable and resilient than we give them credit for. Even if the child chooses not to attend, have a small ceremony at home so they are able to cry their tears and say their goodbyes.
Here are a few books that I have found that helps my children through the grief, loss, and healing process.
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