It’s time yet again to say another sad goodbye to a dear pet. These emotional partings seem to come around so quickly and you’re never really prepared even though you know their time is drawing near. It doesn’t seem two minutes since I was writing about a little furry hollow on a cushion, empty of cat, and here we are again with our faithful dog, years later, who came to us as a puppy at the time that blog was written. Read it here.
The only difference really is that the children are grown and you’re telling adults rather than little ones about this ending of life that’s so hard to impart.
It isn’t any easier because they’re older. In fact the younger the children are the more accepting they are of the event, not yet perhaps understanding the consequence of grief if they’ve never experienced it before.
“Why did the cat die?” their young cousin asked on one such occasion. We adults looked at each other not knowing the answer.
“It was her time,” was the only answer I could think of in the moment. But it was an answer that was completely accepted.
Children are very stoic. Especially if they haven’t experienced the sentimentality and drama that some parents attach to the event of a passing. Sadness is inevitable. But my feeling has always been that we must face up to it, allow our sadness, be true and honest about death, and rather than wallow in histrionics give the children the tools they need to deal with their emotions surrounding it. They do that by our example.
I know its difficult to hold yourself together sometimes. I wrote about this in my book ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ when the children’s only grandparent passed away. You can only do the best you can.
Being home educated there is no distraction of school to ease a moment here and there when you’re grieving but, as ever, it’s an opportunity for learning! We had some searing conversations, searingly honest and scientific, that reassured the children that this is what happens and that we do all endure it and recover from loss in time. It’s so important I think to be carefully honest and not use generalisations like ‘they’ve gone to sleep’, for example which might terrify a child into not sleeping themselves. Answer their questions and give them the information they can process according to their age and understanding. (There are some ideas to help here on the Young Minds website).
Meanwhile my grown youngsters are of an age now where they can show empathy for me and the sad hole in the house they’re no longer in, as well as receive it themselves and I find many of my sayings from the past years when we’ve been dealing with loss, coming full circle and being quoted back to me!
One of them is that the horrible gap that is left by the passing of something or someone loved will eventually be filled up again.
Seasons always come and go, such is the season of sadness.