Archive for August 26th, 2010

August 26, 2010

Its okay Mommy, he’s in my heart.

Subtitle: How to help a child through the loss of a pet.  And how they help you.

As you know, we said goodbye to one of our cats last week.  We knew it was coming and one of our biggest concerns was how we were going to help Sprout deal with the loss of his friend.  Well you know what? It was a thousand times easier than I anticipated. 

The best thing we did with Sprout was prepare him.  When we could tell Mickey’s time was running short, we began talking with Sprout about the fact that Mickey was old and getting sick.  Short, direct, honest, matter-of-fact conversations about the fact that when animals get very old, they die.  At first Sprout protested but with a couple of days to process, he accepted it without much sadness and could speak about it in the same matter-of-fact way we presented the idea to him.  We believe in God and heaven and those concepts are already familiar to him, so he quickly came to accept the idea that Mickey was going to heaven to be with Bubby (A’s mom).  Part of this preparation also included telling him that mommies might cry and that it would be okay to be sad.

So on the day of Mickey’s passing, Sprout was prepared.  It happened while I was working from home and the kids were at daycare/school (a blessing I’ll be forever grateful for).  We were able to deal with the logistics and mourn his loss ourselves before having to address it as mommies.   When Sprout came home that afternoon, we chatted about our days as usual and then I told him that I was feeling sad because Mickey went to heaven.  Again, simple and honest, but no details needed.  Sprout asked a couple questions (“Is he going to come back?”  “Are you going to miss him?”  Is Lilly [the dog] going to die?”) and we proceeded with our routine as usual.  

Part of this routine is that Sprout gets the mail, so he marched off to complete his task.  In the mailbox, he found a card addressed to him from Mickey.  It was a thank you card – for all the chin scratches and love and companionship.  Sprout loved it and it sealed the deal for him that Mickey was indeed in heaven and that he was still as happy as ever.  The card closed by reminding Sprout that Mickey would always be close by in his heart.  And that was that.  No tears or anger, just acceptance.  Of course like all foster kids, he’s a pro when it comes to loss, but we were impressed by the calm and mature way he dealt with everything. 

In the days since I’ve been checking in with Sprout about how he’s feeling and if he’s missing him, ect.  And the answer is always the same, “I miss him, but he’s in my heart.”  

And while I guess you could say that the above is about how we helped Sprout with Mickey’s passing, the truth is that he help me so much more.  If that amazing little man wasn’t in my life I would surely have thrown myself into bed, pulled the covers over my head, and let myself fall apart.  I can be very dramatic like that.   But how could I possibly do any of that in the face of Sprout’s calm, mature, poise?

Whats the saying?  “He who teaches children learns more than they do.”

My goodness. That is so true.