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Books to help you talk about pet bereavement with your child

Tara Breathnach
·5-min read
<p>‘Children may feel that they’ve lost their best friend’</p> (The Independent)

‘Children may feel that they’ve lost their best friend’

(The Independent)

Actor Miranda Hart has revealed she’ll be taking time off work following the death of her dog, Peggy.

In a moving post on Instagram from Monday 18 January, which showed a photo of Hart on the sofa with her pet, she said: “Fellow dog owners will know the excruciating sadness of losing your loyal, loving best friend.

“The pain mirrors the unique joy, connection, comfort and love they bring.”

She went on to say that: “I’m using this time to take some time away from work/posting to write and rest and see what the new chapter will be.”

Losing a beloved pet can be so hard for anyone, and the grief can be similar to losing a human friend or relative.

In December 2020, we wrote about the books that can help with grief, to mark National Grief Awareness Week.

Here, we thought we’d focus on boks that can help you to talk to children about losing a pet.

If your family has recently said goodbye to an animal, and you want to know how to discuss things with your child, there are some helpful ideas on the website of national pet charity Blue Cross.

It has a dedicated pet loss section on how your child might react to the loss of a pet, tips to support them through it and how to say goodbye.

Diane James, pet bereavement support service manager at Blue Cross, said: “When a pet dies, it may be a child or young person’s first experience of the death or loss of something close to them.

“Children can form strong bonds with their pets and they may feel that they have lost their best friend and a member of their family and may feel very sad and lonely.

“It’s important to be honest with them about the circumstances and to help them work through the feelings they encounter as the way in which children, young people and those around them deal with the loss of a pet may lay the foundation for how they cope with other losses later in life.”

If you have a young child, you might want to consider the idea of reading a picture story that focuses on loss, where the characters are going through the same thing.

To help, we’ve rounded up books that might just be what’s needed to get the conversation going.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.You know you’re in safe hands when you’re reading anything by much-loved children's writer Michael Rosen. This book features a cat, Old Roly, who’s getting sleepier, and older, as the days goes by.The family gets a new cat in the form of a stray named Sausage, but Roly remains in their hearts.

‘Lovely Old Roly’ by Michael Rosen, published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books, £4.49, World of Books

World Of Books
World Of Books

You know you’re in safe hands when you’re reading anything by much-loved children's writer Michael Rosen. This book features a cat, Old Roly, who’s getting sleepier, and older, as the days goes by. The family gets a new cat in the form of a stray named Sausage, but Roly remains in their hearts.

Buy now

Goodbye Mog’ by Judith Kerr, published by HarperCollins Publishers, £6.99, Waterstones

Waterstones
Waterstones

If your child is already familiar with the Mog stories, this could be the right book to use to talk about grief with them. It was brought out 50 years after Mog the Forgetful Cat.

“Mog was tired. She was dead tired... Mog thought, 'I want to sleep for ever.' And so she did. But a little bit of her stayed awake to see what would happen next.” This story follows what happens when Mog passes on and her family gets a new kitten. And the illustrations are lovely.

Buy now

‘I’ll Always Love’ you by Hans Wilhelm, published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, £12.60, Amazon

Amazon
Amazon

This book tells the story of the relationship between a dog named Elfie and the little boy who owns her. One day, Elfie doesn’t wake up, and the family grieves for her, and buries her. The text is simple, and the gentle watercolour illustrations have been designed to match it perfectly.It’s suitable for children aged between six and eight years.

Buy now

‘The Invisible Leash: A Story Celebrating Love After the Loss of a Pet’ by Patrice Karst, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, £9.25, Amazon

Amazon
Amazon

This book by Patrice Karst is based on the idea of “the invisible string”: the notion that a string, or in this case, a leash, keeps loved ones connected even after death.

The book focuses on the love and warmth pets offer and features Zach, who’s dog Jojo, passes on. Zach’s friend Emily tries to comfort him with the "best news ever": an invisible leash around our hearts connects everyone to their pets no matter where they are, on this Earth or somewhere beyond.

Buy now

‘The Goodbye Book’ by Todd Parr, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, £12.99, Wordery

Wordery
Wordery

This 32-page book tells the story of a fish who loses his partner. And the message author Todd Parr wants to get across is that sometimes, it’s OK not to have all the answers.

It looks at saying goodbye, and knowing you’ll have support in loss, and has been written for children aged around three to six years.

Buy now

If you’re an adult who’s going through grief, or loss of any kind. see our round-up of books that can help

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