Unfortunately, the day that I have been preparing the kids for finally arrived. Yesterday, we had to say goodbye to my Mother’s dog. He was a big part of my children’s lives and it was their first experience with death. I was on the fence about writing this post as I have recently written a post about how to talk to kids about death. However some of their reactions were unexpected and I want to share this in hopes of helping one of you be prepared.
Before talking to my kids, I made sure I was as composed as I could be. I knew it would be pointless talking to them if I was bawling my eyes out. After a long drive I came home and gathered the kids, and my husband, in the living room. I took a few deep breaths and finally let them know that during their nap, the dog had died. Their initial reaction was exactly what I thought would happen – my Daughter audibly gasped and my Son burst into tears. Once a few minutes had passed, my Daughter said “Let’s go look for him!” and my Son agreed. After a fruitless search, more tears were shed and we shared memories of our beloved companion.
My Mother had been out and about, taking some time for herself. She didn’t want to be around while I spoke with the kids. When she came into the house, both children ran to her and bluntly stated “Grandma, your dog died”. I couldn’t help but slap my head! I knew that they may say things about the death, but to be so blunt?! I mean, come on!! Thankfully my Mom simply nodded and said “Yes, he did”.
The rest of the day was filled with similar statements and they were all met with the same response “Yes, that’s right”. We felt no need to elaborate. Today when my Son stated that the dog had died, I gently explained that saying things like that might make people sad and that it was better to say “I miss him”. All of a sudden, they became very concerned about the whereabouts of the dog’s collar. My Son began to cry again so I told him that we had brought the collar to the store to be cleaned. In realty, it’s with the dog and will be returned to us when his cremains are ready. We did not talk about what really happened to his body. The kids believe he simply went to Heaven and that’s enough for now.
Saying goodbye is never easy. I will miss that beautiful little soul who taught my children how wonderful it is to have a dog as part of your life. Until we meet at the Rainbow Bridge…