When a pet dies the grief and sorrow that is often attached is overwhelming and gut wrenching. I remember the first time our daughters experienced the death of a pet and the profound impact that had on them.
It was an extremely hot summers day, in fact, it was over 40 degrees celsius and the hot northerly wind made it unbearable. Our oldest girl went out to check on the horses and came running back shouting that her deeply loved pony was lying down and wouldn't get up. Tiffany was an old shetland pony whom our girls had fallen deeply in love with. She had been loaned to them from the neighbouring farm. Tiffany was the source of such joy and happiness in our daughters lives. Tragically for them, Tiffany passed away that very night.
The pain and loss for our then 6 and 3 year old girls
was absolutely and completely real.
As I am writing this blog my eldest girl Taylor just said to me (9 years later):
"Dad I remember everything about that day. I found Tiffany lying down and was so scared - I ran to you. It took us ages to get her up and to slowly walk her into the shade where we tried to give her water to drink. I remember you put Tiffany in the horse float and took her to the neighbours house and I cried and cried and cried as I watched you drive away. It was so sad."
Further to Taylor memories, I remember I was taken back a little as almost two years later after dinner that completely unprovoked Taylor would come out to Naomi and I crying and holding a picture of her beloved Tiffany. We talked through what had happened, we remembered the details, the great times she shared with her beautiful pony, and the end-of-life experience Taylor had witnessed. It was as though the event had just taken place.
I learnt some great lessons from this experience:
- The loss of a human or a pet can often mirror each other.
- Never say "it was just a pet."
- Loss is loss - young or old, when we have loved, we experience deep loss.
- Especially with children, expect the questions to come even years later.
As I continue to write, Taylor and the girls are now looking at past photo's of Tiffany and telling each other 'grand stories' of past horse riding adventures. As I listen I am smiling as I appreciate the importance of what they are doing and the healthiness of it.
Let us all remain kind and caring when those around us lose a pet.
Let's face it, most pets are truly apart of the family
and their death is felt accordingly.
Have you lost a pet?
How did you experience that loss?
Please, leave us a comment below.
By Steve Morrison