Laura Cozza is a parenting coach and had to explain the unexpected death of her family's 10-year-old dog to a 15-year-old son who had grown up with the dog, as well as a 7- and a 3-year-old.
"Our 15-year-old took it the hardest because he grew up with him and was with him the longest of the kids," she said. "He, of course, understood death so the way we talked to him about what happened was different than the younger kids. We explained to him what was wrong with our dog and provided comfort for him by reminiscing and sharing old pictures."
"As far as the 7-year-old and 3 year-old were concerned, they understood that our dog was not with us any longer but could not yet grasp the idea of what death exactly meant," Cozza said. "We explained to them that our dog was sick and didn't feel good but now he feels better and is happy and having fun in Heaven with God."
The key with all three children was to be upfront and honest. "Being open with the kids about it," she said, "letting them see us sad and that it was okay to feel that way helped them to grieve and feel comfortable talking to us about their feeling."