Maybe you saw a dead bug or a dead bird. Heck, maybe your own child stepped on a few ants or squashed a spider. Chances are good your kids have at least heard about or discovered this thing called death during their outdoor explorations.
But what happens when the experience hits a little closer to home? Do you ever wonder how your kids would react to say, losing a pet?
I did. And a couple of weeks ago, I found out.
One of the two furry feline members of our family – the 18-year-old one – passed away. The experience couldn’t have been more beautiful.
Weird, I know. But beautiful is the only word I can think of to describe the process of watching a life slowly fade away, without pain (at least none he expressed or we could see) or struggle.
Over the course of roughly three days, we watched our usually sprite and talkative (okay, complaining) kitty grow weak and faint. After the first day, I could sense we didn’t have much longer together. So I told the kids he would be leaving soon.
Not going away or to some other place where we couldn't see him anymore. But dying. That his time on our planet was coming to an end. And that it was time for us to say goodbye.
We spent a lot of time sitting together, petting our cat, talking with him of days gone by, reassuring him that we loved him and wanted him to rest. We cried together, too.
He passed away in the early hours on a Saturday morning. When I woke to find him lying peacefully on our couch, I was still stunned at the loss. The kids took it all in stride. And not because they didn’t love him. Or wouldn’t miss him. Quite the opposite.
Each still wanted to say one final goodbye. They did so without looks of disgust or horror at his lifeless body. They treated him with love and respect.
There is a lesson to be learned in all of this. Kids can handle a lot more than we might think. Just give them a chance to try.