Critter Funerals

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Parenting is full of many hilarious, surreal moments as we watch our offspring figure life out. First words. First steps. First pee pees in the potty. First block towers. First time to write “Mom” or “Dad”. First goals. First cartwheels. First firsts. I love firsts. Well, most of them. Like it or not, there’s a first that we can’t avoid forever. It’s a 100% gonna happen throughout their lives. First experiences with death.

The kids were 6, 5 & 4. We were living with my dad & stepmom while our house was for sale. For months the kids adored and played with their little dog, Duke.  Then, one normal day, he died. Unexpectedly. I had a lot of questions to answer and tears to wipe. I realized, I needed to stop telling the kids that graveyards were just pretty gardens and then changing the subject. I started looking for teachable moments here and there over the next many years to explain death.

Butterflies die.

So do tadpoles that you rename sadpoles as they slowly lose their wiggles.

I’m the first to admit I have to hide some giggles as we bury butterflies or tadpoles. I can’t help but replay that Cosby Show when they flush Rudy’s fish down the toilet. But, I’m thankful we’ve had some “practice” talking about the death of critters first and not people when I’m a babbling mess of tears. That will come too. And, as much as I felt like Critter Funerals were for them, I also realized they were for me too.  I’ve worked out my message about death wrapped in our personal beliefs.

I don’t have a fancy list of do’s and don’ts. I don’t have book recommendations. I don’t know exactly what to say. We all know our own kids best and what’s appropriate for them. But, I do think it’s something to think about before you have to.

Now I just need to get over my guilt of putting the sad poles near the kitchen sink, where I suspect they may have gotten soap in their water. Oops.

Love & hugs & back to lighter topics, Shelisa

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  1. KC in VA says:

    Agreed…not sure when you’re supposed to bring up this topic but this topic will find you eventually and it’s best to just discuss it in a frank and natural manner I believe…sooner rather than later if possible… we had a family tragedy when my girls were 2 and 4 and it’s still something all of us are processing since we planning on bringing home a new baby sister from the hospital but ended up with an angel instead. Now the kids are 3.5 and 6 and we’re all about studying life cycles for science this past year as they continue to figure things out and figure out how to cope with something so hard to explain…but we learn that living things have a beginning and an end, that the end time is different for each thing and things don’t always end the way we expect them to. My children’s faith is so very simple, studying chickens and butterflies and frogs has brought them closure, Heaven is a surety in their pure hearts. And I learn so much from watching them figure things out. My too-wise Kindergartener told me “You can hold things in your hands and you can hold things in your heart…and if you’re lucky you get to hold them in both. Me and all my sisters are in your heart, but the little one is just your heart, right mom? Not so lucky…but still okay”. Yep, still okay. Ask me who is teaching who most days and I’ll tell you they’re teaching me, lol.

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