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How do I apprach this?

(13 Posts)
Pixiefish Tue 21-Aug-07 16:56:51

One of my parents dogs has been put down today. He has been ill for some time.
My parents came over with the other dog after they'd been to the vets but i hadn't had a chance to say anything to dd who is 3.

She only mentioned the other dog once and that was in passing. She has never seen one without the other and she loves playing with them. They are/were little shit tzu's so not very playful and not very social with her but she used to have fun and she used to love 'trying' to stroke them.

Now, what do i say to her about the dead dog? We go there a few times a week so it's not as if I can say nothing. Whenever we go there she runs in shouting their names and is bound to ask where he is.

Dh wants to say he's gone somewhere else as he doesn't want to introduce her to the concept of death.

I have no idea what to say to her. Plus I am a bit upset myself as are my parents so don't know if it will be better coming from dh now for her to get used to the idea or do I leave it till I next go there and tell her as we walk in or just before we go in?

ChubbyScotsBurd Tue 21-Aug-07 17:12:01

It's up to you how you feel best handling this, but as a vet can I suggest that you do not say anything which might confuse the child. Often people give explanations like "He's gone to sleep" or "he was ill and sad so he went to the doggy doctor and now he's in heaven" because children take these things literally and it can make normal things like going to sleep or visiting the doctor/vet frightening for them.

I would suggest that this is possibly quite a good age to introduce the concept of death, but sensitively. If left until she's a lot older it might be something she could dwell on and worry about, whereas younger children are often very accepting. Others may well disagree, and I don't have personal experience of children of this age, but I have seen a few people regret explaining death in euphemistic terms!

mintchips Tue 21-Aug-07 17:29:00

I've had to explain this to my dds (6&3) twice this year as my parents have lost both of their dogs.

I didn't mention the vet and just explained that they had been very poorly and had died.

I said that they were now happy in doggy heaven (each animal has its own heaven in our house!) because they weren't in pain any more.

My 6 year old was more upset than my 3 year old who was very matter of fact about it!

Good luck x

Pixiefish Tue 21-Aug-07 17:31:48

Thanks both. i don't want to say he's gone to 'hospital' and then somethings happened to him because I'm 6 months pg and will be going in to hospital soon so I don't want her to think that if I go to hospital I won't be coming home iyswim.

When would you tell her then- next time I go to my folks or now

NAB3 Tue 21-Aug-07 17:34:30

Now. If you wait until you just go in it will be more of a shock. Telling her now gets her used to the idea of there only being 1 dog next time she goes.

mintchips Tue 21-Aug-07 17:34:51

I told them when it happened because knowing me I'd forget and visit my parents with out having told them!

handlemecarefully Tue 21-Aug-07 17:37:14

Well I told my 3 year old that his grandad was dead. Didn't cause any problems.

Pixiefish Tue 21-Aug-07 17:38:22

Just worried she won't understand iyswim

handlemecarefully Tue 21-Aug-07 17:40:48

You'd be surprised. Personally I went for the very direct approach - grandad is dead. He has been ill. You won't be seeing him again. He's gone to heaven (not helpful if you are athiest or agnostic) and is with God looking down on you.

Don't know how much ds truly understood but he got general gist very quickly

aloha Tue 21-Aug-07 17:42:07

Just tell her the dog was poorly and is dead. Tell her it didn't hurt him, but she won't see him any more. Small children are horribly matter-of-fact ime.

aloha Tue 21-Aug-07 17:42:34

Death of an animal is a good way of introducing concept of death IMO.

handlemecarefully Tue 21-Aug-07 17:43:38

Yes and they are too introspective and self orientated to feel much in the way of genuine 'loss' imo

Pixiefish Tue 21-Aug-07 17:46:05

Right, shall have a go later. Bit upset atm to do it.

Thank you all for your replies xx

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