Animals Help Kids To Cope With Death

When children experience the death of a loved one, they need comfort in many different ways, shapes and sizes. Animals hold a special place in most kid's hearts. They can soothe when you're sad, warm you when you're cold, calm you when you worry and even make you laugh when you're down in the dumps.

Children love to make friends with animals of all kinds. The breathing, slobbering, tail wagging, farting, annoying, loving, kind - or the stuffed, soft and cuddly kind, and even at times, the digital kind. When my daughters were young back in the 90's, they made friends with tomagotchis - hand held digital pets that they had to feed and take care of digitally. Sometimes they took better care of the tomagotchi than they did our very-much alive cat named, Precious.

Around the same time, I became aware of the symbolic messages that Native Americans and other indigenous peoples, connected to animals. The book, Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals by Jamie Sams and David Carson, was my first introduction in learning to respect the symbolic power that each animal carries and how to allow the animal to intuitively guide me. 

One of the teachings I learned, is that nature and all beings are a part of an interconnected universe. Have you ever experienced your pet somehow knowing when you're struggling and who then shows you more affection than usual? They seem to know innately that you are in need of extra love.

 In writing Melodee Roo & The Wantoks Too! Letters For Grieving Children Like You, I wanted the characters to be animals. Children can relate to them and lessons can be learned in such a non-intimidating way.

Melodee Roo is the main character who writes letters to a grieving child. She is a Tree Kangaroo. I had never heard of a tree kangaroo before. A tree kangaroo looks more like a cuddly cat (which I have always had an affinity for), than the version of their cousin with the big feet. The symbolism of a kangaroo fits in nicely with Melodee's character. Melodee understands the language of loss and grief. She had to learn it after the death of her grandmother. Kangaroos symbolically represent the creation of a safe home, the nurturing and protectiveness of their young. Kangaroos have a natural strength and stamina that helps them to always move forward, never backward. 

Melodee Roo teaches grieving children that they have the strength and stamina to move forward after the death of a loved one. She gives comfort and provides safety in being able to discuss the different thoughts and feelings one can have as they move through the grieving process. And through her encouragement and support, she gently guides children to cope with one of life's hardest experience. She befriends a child, unconditionally helping them to feel less alone in their grief. Don't you think that's a cool way to help a child?

Sharon Diaz LPC, LADC: Helping People. Changing Lives. Sharon is an author, a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor and Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in Shelton, Connecticut.