So, yesterday, I love one of my best friends. My beloved, adored, cherished companion, Gucci, my 11 year old Chihuahua. We’ve been through so much together – she was always by my side – a model for Marie Claire on multiple occasions, a first class passenger on several cross atlantic flight, she approved my simon and was there for the wedding. She was patient following the birth of my beloved Max. Very sadly, she was diagnosed with mitral valve disease about 4 years ago which sent us into a tizzy. We did all the research and saw multiple cardiologists and had her on a cocktail of medications to keep her healthy, reduced her stress levels to make sure her heart never went into over drive, reduced her salt intake to literally nothing (which meant max never ate anything with any salt since it would end up on the floor) and monitored her breathing several times a day every day over the last 4 years. We would have done anything for her. In fact, she died during a routine vet visit. We took her and her 2 sister dogs in yesterday morning for their routine check up and she ultimately passed during her chest x-ray simply from the stress of being at the vet. They did everything to save her, but to no avail. She passed away because her heart was simply too big. This is the truth.
I wanted to share this because I have just done a post on heart prints and love – and she was my first baby and one of my greatest loves. Also, because I wanted to share some advice on dealing with the loss of a pet that I got from a fellow mom not too long ago. The advice was how to deal with children and the passing of a pet. Max is truly still to young for a lot of this… But her words were wise…
1) When your pet passes, have an open conversation with your child. It will probably be the first time your little one ever becomes aware of the concept of death.
2) After your pet has passed use definitive language. This means, don’t use words like: “gucci has gone away” “gucci is in a better place” or “gucci is no longer with us.” This is too vague and could insinuate that she might come back… Or that when you say you’re going away (lets say a business trip or what not) there could be the confusion that you might not come back.. Using words like “gucci died and we loved her very much and miss her” are fine, if you want to say “gucci went to heaven and she is with the angels” and then explain what heaven is and that’s where people go when they die (if that is what you believe) then that is fine too. The key is to make sure to use finite language to avoid any misinterpretation..
3) Its okay to cry in front of your little one. Expressing emotion and sadness is good and therapeutic. Its show your children that its okay to mourn and be sad. But, also explain to your little one why you are crying, “mommy is crying because she misses Gucci and is sad. Being sad is okay and crying is okay because its how we deal with losing someone we love.” This is important because it tells your little one that expressing emotion and handling grief is not something to bottle up or hide.
4) Do not let your little one see you break down completely. Believe me, in the last 18 hours my husband and I have been in and out of hysterics – its important to remove yourself from your child if this is coming on. While it is okay for them to see you shed a tear, they don’t need to see you melt down. As much as your heart is breaking over your loss – a break down could scare a child and make them feel very uneasy and scared. If you feel like you can’t control the emotion, go to the bathroom or into another room until you can pull yourself together.
I will be honest. I am broken right now. I wish I cold stop my hands from shaking, my heart from racing and my legs from wanting to give out from under me. A friend of mine sent me this link about losing a pet that’s basically explained by a 6 year old. To sum it up a family has to put their beloved family pet down and they decide it would be okay for their 6 year old to be with them when they did it. Once the dog passed they were talking about how unfair it is that animals live such short lives and the little boys says that he knows why. He says that we as humans are put on the earth to learn how to love and be kind and good and that dogs already know all of those things so they don’t need to stay as long… Profound, true, beautiful and somewhat comforting. My plan is to keep going and keep myself distracted with my 2 dogs, my darling baby boy, my husband and my work, allowing myself to cry and waiting for the total distress to eventually pass. In the meantime – I wanted to share some photos of my beloved girl. Dealing with the loss of a pet is one of the hardest things because all they ever want is to love you – they may be the only ones truly capable of unconditional love. They enrich our life and teach us how to love. Please feel free to share your comments below, thoughts on a pet that you may have lost and miss, or ways that you dealt with the loss of a pet and how you you managed it with your children. Thank you for reading and never miss a moment to tell those close to you just how much you love them.