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And then the dog died

By Kenneth R. Kaufman, Nathaniel D. Kaufman

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Childhood grief and mourning of family and friends may have immediate and long-lasting consequences including depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, behavioral disturbances, and school underachievement. Childhood pet bereavement is no less important, because the pet is often considered a member of the family by the child. However, society does not always acknowledge the significance of pet bereavement, which can result in unresolved grief. This article, a case analysis with literature review, addresses childhood pet bereavement in the context of multiple prior losses (K. R. Kaufman & N. D. Kaufman, 2005). This case mirrors both old and new findings in grief research and therapy: (a) beneficial response to emotional expression of grief in context of search for meaning; (b) beneficial response to cognitive approach toward grief with ability to prevent development of complicated grief even in the face of multiple losses; (c) beneficial effects associated with supportive family and with positive self-concept; (d) intensity of grief magnified by the child's degree of attachment to the pet, the suddenness of the pet's death, the multiple prior losses, and the role of the pet in the child's life; and (e) resiliency. This case further emphasizes the need for parents not to trivialize death of pets, to appreciate the role pets have in children's lives, and to assist the child in multiple approaches toward expression (be it verbal, written, or artistic). Finally, this case reinforces the ability of the child to assist in family bereavement and to serve as teacher. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

Publication Title Death Studies
Volume 30
Issue 1
Pages 61-76
ISBN/ISSN 0748-11871091-7683
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/07481180500348811
Author Address Kaufman, Kenneth R., Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School 125 Paterson Street, Suite #2200, New Brunswick, NJ, US, 08901,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Academics
  2. Anxiety
  3. Behavioral disorders
  4. Child behavior
  5. Child development
  6. Death
  7. Depression
  8. Dogs
  9. Emotions
  10. Family
  11. Grief
  12. Life experiences
  13. peer-reviewed
  1. peer-reviewed