Death, And Not The Fun Kind

by Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] on April 17, 2013

in Being Mom,Family,Kiddos

I know the whole “everyone deals with death in different ways” adage is true, and I trust it. I just don’t know how to deal with my daughter’s way of dealing with death.

Luckily, I didn’t have to experience death in my life as a kid. As an adult, I’ve (expectedly) lost grandparents, (not expectedly) lost a pregnant cousin, and (not expectedly) lost my father-in-law.

Growing up, we had two dogs. One lived to be 17-1/2 years old, and the day before she was to be taken in to be put down, she committed apparent suicide by drowning in the lake behind my parent’s house when I was a teenager. The other lived through cancer, and long after I left home, my dad took her in to be put down.

As a girl and into my teens, death was never something that touched me—not even remotely closely.

For the last 2 years, we’ve been preparing ourselves and our girls for the inevitable death of our oldest dog. For a beagle, any years lived healthily past 13 are added bonuses. We promised her and ourselves that we wouldn’t let her suffer in her elderly age.

We don’t think she did.

Kesah on Pillow

She had cataracts, she couldn’t hear worth shit, she’d had a heart murmur for the last 7 years, and she only really barked/howled when she was hungry. But she wasn’t in pain; she wasn’t suffering. We let her live on.

When a beagle turns away food, you know something is wrong or you’ve let your toddler feed her. As I wrote in a previous post,

(M)y girls after having “fed” our dogs while I was in the other room napping cleaning, the dog food left after our beagle ate so much she was nearly full. If you know beagles, you know they never get full. They will eat until their stomachs explode like the Glutton victim inSe7en. I imagine this was the Best Day Ever for the dog.

Anna and Claire Feed the Dog WAY Too Much

Sunday, Kesah turned away her dinner. She refused to eat.

The dog we adopted from an animal shelter on our 1st wedding anniversary and named after an NHL goalie (Dominik Hasek, spelled backwards), the dog who once ate so much food she stopped eating, collapsed and couldn’t get back up.

Without going into (gross) details about what she went through in her last hours, we made the final decision to have her taken in to the emergency vet on Sunday afternoon and have her put down.

She was not going to suffer.

But I think my daughter is suffering in her loss.

Anna, at 8 years old, loved that dog more than I probably ever did. Anna, with her anxiety issues and intelligence and tendency to disappear inside her head, is quietly grieving and won’t let us in.

She’s still laughing, still happy, still putting on a good face.

On Sunday, she saw the end of her dog’s life. We did everything we could to prepare her and her sister and ourselves for Kesah’s death, but even all of that preparation couldn’t help the sobs and wails from escaping.

She wailed.

So I grieved for the innocence lost in my daughter’s eyes that death hadn’t yet touched her.

This week, she’s been…off. Not herself. Hiding something. Refusing to admit that anything is wrong. Unwilling to succumb to her tears.

Her way of dealing with Kesah’s death is hurting me more than losing our dog.

I don’t know what it’s like to be 8 years old and lose a family member or pet. I can’t sympathize with her. I never had to watch a pet go through the processes of death.

I’m at a loss.

I feel like I’m waiting for her to fall.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brenda April 17, 2013 at 1:23 pm

What you can do to help her the most is…….let her grieve and validate it for her. Trying to diminish the grief (I’m quite sure you wouldn’t do that) only makes a child feel as if there is more wrong with them than they already believe. Show her that you are grieving as well. And God knows, a hug every once in a while (or very often) can do wonders. I’m sorry for you loss. Even though this was a pet and not a human the pain is simply the same for a child, sometimes adults too.

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2 Angie's Favorite Sister April 17, 2013 at 8:55 pm

What about the school counselor? I’m sure they have resources that can help. So sorry you’re all going through this tough time.

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3 cindy w April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Ohhh babe, I don’t know what to tell you. When we lost our cat last year, Catie had a REALLY hard time with it. Combine it with the fact that her dad had left just a few months earlier, and… ooof. I took her to a counselor and it seemed to help a lot, but I don’t know if that would work for Anna’s case. It’s really rough.

Sorry for all of you. Losing a pet is so hard. XOXO
An Awesome post on cindy w´s blog … Confession

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4 Erin April 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Does she have a journal? If she can’t talk about it, maybe she can write about it. Or maybe she is grieving, just not in the way you expect?
An Awesome post on Erin´s blog … Shoes

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