Dear Savvy Auntie,

I'd love some help, Savvy Auntie! My 5-year old niece lost her dog - her best friend- on Christmas Day due to a traumatic and sudden bacterial infection. The dog was only 6. She is angry and sad and I am not sure the best thing to say to her!

The Console-Her

Dear The Console-Her,

Losing a pet at five years of age that you have had your whole life can be quite traumatic. The best that you can “say” is to mirror back to her what she says with compassion and empathy. Assuring her that she will feel less sad and angry as time passes is helpful.

If her parents have not had a “memorial ritual” you could speak to them about that. It could be making a photo album of the dog, your niece dictating a goodbye letter, putting the dog’s dishes and toys in a box and bringing it to the local pound, or a special meal cooked by the two of you in his honor.

There are many books on the market about losing a pet you can check out the one(s) that are appropriate. Lastly, if you have a relationship with her nursery school teachers you could consult with them as they are experts in how to mourn the loss of a pet.

I hope this is helpful,
Natalie Robinson Garfield


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