Wednesday, 29 February 2012
They are just kids. Young, free, innocent. They live in a world where everything is okay because we as parents, protect them. We hide the bad, exaggerate the good, and let them think that the world is perfect. But at what age to you shatter that bubble? What age do you tell them Santa isn't real and the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy do not exist? Those are the easy questions. How about what age to you explain what Death is too them, or tell that that a loved one or pet died?
This past Sunday, Our kitten Chewy passed away on the way to the vet. He was breathing when we left with him, and the kids all said their goodbyes and their get well's, expecting him to come home feeling better because 'doctor's make everything better.' Or at least that's what we tell them to get them to co-operate during doctor appointments. So when I came home without the kitten, naturally they had a million questions. Where is Chewy? Is he better? Why didn't he come home with you? Faced with the indecision of explaining to them that Chewy was too sick to get better, or lying to them to keep them from feeling the pain? At what age to you tell the truth.
I sat the boys down and explained to them that when they are sick they want their mommies to make them feel better and that was what Chewy wanted. He wanted his mommy to make him feel better so the doctor took Chewy back to his mommy because his mommy missed him very much. Then I told them that Chewy wanted me to tell them goodbye, and I gave all three of them a really big hug and kiss for him.
After they had run off to play my nephew Justin who will be five in April, came up to me and said "Aunty, Chewy died didn't he?". I sat there not knowing what to say, but he came to me for the truth and I didn't know what to do. I sat him down and explained to him that when we found Chewy he was sick inside, but the doctors didn't know because they had never seen Chewy before and that when they first looked him over he seemed okay. I told him that unfortunately Chewy couldn't get better, but he was in a happy place where he would be hugged and kissed and cuddled every day. I also explained to him that he couldn't tell the younger boys that Chewy was in heaven because they were too young to understand.
I worried and questioned if I had done the right thing or not by telling him the truth, and explaining death to him. Later that night my two year old son was crying for Chewy because he always came to bed with us, and slept in our room. Justin walked up to him and sat him down on the stairs hugging him and told him that Chewy was with his mommy, he was feeling much better, he was happy and he was thinking of all of us. I cried silently to myself while watching him comfort his baby cousin and now I no longer question if I did the right thing or not.
How old do you think a child should be before you open up and talk to them about death?
If you've had to talk to your child about the loss of a pet, please share your experience.