Here’s the scenario: It’s late at night, and just before you turn in, you reach to shut off the light and you notice that the fish is dead.
I know somebody can relate to this and the thoughts and feelings that come afterwards.
This was me several years ago. I was so fearful that my little girl, 6 at the time, would be devastated that her fish had passed away. So at nine and a half months pregnant, and at midnight, I headed out to the 24 hour Wal-Mart to replace her fish before she woke up.
Why was I so afraid to let her know the fish died? Was it because he was so new to the family? Or was it that I wanted her to be shielded from pain and sadness of losing someone you love. (Okay, it was a few day old fish, but to a 6 year old, it’s a big thing!)
Fast forward, to about 5 years later. My oldest, dearest cat was aging. It was her time and we had to put her down on Valentine’s.
That day, there was no hiding the event or running out, into the night, to replace her. My three children would have to cope with the reality of losing a pet. They made her a bed of blankets; they prayed, stroked her fur and talked to her.
Together we remembered the moments of her life.
She was docile, allowed the children to dress her up in bows and she would sit and watch the babies sleep. She would meow loudly to wake me if the babies woke up in the middle of the night and I had not heard them. Her name was Alaska; because of her oversized, furry, deep-brown bear paws. She was my first pet after I was out of my parent’s house and on my own.
We did not replace her right away. We waited, and about two years later got a kitten from a friend. A feisty little one who wasn’t very little after a year! While the children were a way at their fathers out of state, the cat died from a common illness.
I decided not to tell them until I saw them. Six long weeks I kept the secret that their pet died. It was awful and they were very angry at me for it. On the ride home they asked how he was and I finally had to break it to them. I pulled off of our route just because they were so upset; I could see they needed hugs and some comforting. They cried a lot, it was their kitten they lost this time, not Mommies.
When a pet dies it’s hard to determine how to tell a child.
I’ve done it differently every time and the truth is, there is no way which is easiest.
Then there’s the question of whether the pet should be replaced.
I’ve never thought that it was the thing to do.
Until shortly after we lost our one year old cat. We decided to adopt. And as much as it seemed that it may have filled a void, which I originally thought would be bad for the kids, I believe that it was actually good for them!
Because it wasn’t the cute and cuddly new pet that was filling the void for them; but the random act of kindness that made a difference and knowing for a fact that if our cat was still alive, we would have never been able to save this one’s life.
It gave an answer to the question we kept asking, ‘Why did this have to happen?’
The day we took this animal in it was literally on its way to the humane society to be put down….
Our life has never been the same since.
We still keep pictures up, talk about and love our deceased pets. We have dealt with the facts of life revolving our pets’ deaths, but at the same time we have shared our love once again and feel good about it.
So, when Fido dies, don’t worry about what experts say you should do, just do what’s in your heart.