June 10 – World Pet Memorial Day

 World Pet Memorial Day

Anyone who has lost a pet understands how devastating it can be. And, for children it can be even more so because they don’t really understand life and death issues. For many children, this is the first time they’ve encountered death. There are several picture books that can help a child come to grips with the loss and start a conversation about their feelings.  You can look at some of these ahead of time, so that you are prepared to help a child in your life when the time comes to mourn the death of a beloved pet.

140185The Tenth Good Thing About Barney written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Erik Blegvad (1987)

Barney is the family cat who has just died. The boy’s family is going to have a funeral for him and the boy’s mother suggests that he think of ten good things about Barney. The boy is worried because he can only think of nine good things about Barney. After working in the garden with his father, the boy comes to the conclusion that the tenth good thing about Barney is that his body will help the garden grow. This is a very sweet book about dealing with death by focusing on the positive, but many people are turned off by the fact that the tenth good thing about Barney is that he will decompose. There is also an answered question about whether or not there is a Heaven, and this may bother some readers as well.

If Heaven is something you want addressed in your child’s grieving process, I would recommend these two books by Cynthia Rylant Dog Heaven (1995) and Cat Heaven (1997). 89378 108396But no matter, what other books you choose to read, you must take a look at this one.

834493I’ll Always Love You written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm (1988)

This is a sweet and  moving story about a boy and his dog Elfie.  They grow up together and every day he tells Elfie, “I’ll always love you.” So when Elfie doesn’t wake up one morning, the boy knows that he has always told Elfie how much he loves him everyday. This is a great message about telling those you love how much they mean to you while they are still alive.

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