When my family’s thirteen-year-old retriever mix Sadie died this September, I was struck by the dual nature of my own grief. On the one hand, I mourned my loving, neurotic girl who had been with my husband and me since before we had children. On the other hand, I was also quite worried about my children’s reactions to her death. Sadie had simply always been around. As we looked back at family pictures, there was Sadie snuggled up next to my newborns, trotted out alongside the kids on their first day of school photos and dressed up as a Halloween pumpkin along with the kids in their costumes. My children had never known a life without our family dog.
As a parent educator, I rarely use the word should. Matter of fact, I cringe at the idea of giving parents one more SHOULD; almost as much as many parents cringe at the idea of talking to their kids about death. After a spate of violence and random death in Seattle, I realized how few parents discuss the topic of death with their children before they are forced to. This is where the SHOULD comes in. We should because it will help our children and ourselves move through the pain of loss just a little bit easier. For those of us who have lost loved ones, even the tiniest bit easier is worth it.