Should kids have the day off school for the death of a pet?

Losing a pet is devastating.
Losing a pet is devastating. Photo: Shutterstock

Parents online have been debating whether it is okay to give a child the day off school when their pet dies. One mum asked the question on Mumsnet, and it has been received with mixed reactions.

She had just had to tell her 13-year-old son that his pony had to be put to sleep. She said he was "understandably devastated", and cried himself to sleep. Which, frankly, I would too. Who wouldn't be sad about the loss of a pony?

"He has some health issues anyway which mean he is easily fatigued and I know getting him up at 7 for school tomorrow is going to be hell on earth," the mum wrote.

"He would struggle to manage the day even if he was just tired, without the emotional stuff on top."

The mum said she was worried about how her son's school would react if she gave him the day off, asking, "Am I being unreasonable to keep him off or take him in late tomorrow? Or should I just take him in as normal?"

Personally, I don't really understand why this is a question. The poor kid is devastated, would have had terrible sleep, and could probably do with a day of love and ice cream. And taking care of your mental and emotional health is just as important, if not more so, than what you learn in school.

Grief is grief, and when you're 13 grief can be all-encompassing. Telling a child to swallow those feelings and just get on with things can't be good for them.

Most parents who responded agreed.

"Definitely let him have the day off," said one. "Just tell the school he's not feeling well, no need to go into detail."


Another offered, "I would say he's ill, poor boy. People at my work have had the day off when their dog died. I was devastated when my 20-year-old cat died."

Other commenters suggested the mum let her son make the decision, and some advised against the mum lying to the school and saying her son is ill.

The mum responded that she planned to be honest with the school and let them know what had happened to the pony. She expected they would mark her son down as having an "unauthorised absence".