Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Bereavment in the Pet Family

Tragedy struck today. A week ago we got our children their first small pets - it was my son's birthday and he helped build a cage and then we went to a friend, who has animals to spare, and chose a young rabbit and a baby guinea pig, who were duely christened Speedy and Squeaky. Both very sweet and happy to be handled. Our border collies and cats were intrigued by the new additions and pretty much camped out by the cage, so we put up a makeshift barrier around it, until we could add on an enclosed run for the children to play with them in. Anyway today on our return from school the girls went straight off to see Squeaky and Speedy, I'm busy inside checking messages when I hear an anguished howl from my daughter. One of the dogs has grabbed Squeaky... she dropped him when I shouted and there were no broken bones, but he must have had internal injuries and an hour later died.

This was the children's first close experience of death and we spent the afternoon dealing with genuine grief, all expressed in different ways by each child. My eight year old son, sobbed briefly then went to bed with a headache and didn't want to talk about it cos it made him feel too sad. My five year old daughter said she hurt inside and wanted to cry but couldn't. My three year old felt sad and keeps saying that she liked Squeaky and that she doesn't want any of us to die ever. We had lots of talks about his spirit leaving his body and being happy to know that he was loved so much, and that we will never forget him but will feel less sad over time. When Dad came home from work we had a solemn burial and said goodbye to him.

It felt very important going through these emotions with my children. I felt grief too myself, it's amazing how much one small guinea pig can wriggle into your heart in the space of one week. We will go and choose another one on the weekend and build Fort Knox around the cage so it doesn't happen again.

No recipes today - I didn't bake bread and supper was a mediocre affair - my heart wasn't in it, but tomorrow is another day.


  1. Oh this is so hard for children and their parents...It seems to be a right of passage we all must go through growing up and for moms and daddys too! My heart goes out to you and your children in the loss of their beloved pets...

  2. Thank you. We went back to my friend's farm and chose a close relative of Squeaky to come and join our family. His name? Squeaky 2! He's mow tucked up with the rabbit Speedy and I hope will feel settled in soon. The children seem quite recovered - they bounce back quickly - mum may take a little longer!


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