Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kids Can Handle Death

Well, as my Facebook friends know, we had to put our cat to sleep today. I won't bore you with the reasons and details - it's always sad and always hard to make this decision. But I did want to note here that we were completely up front with Sam about the whole thing, from the decision-making process to the meaning of death. Sam even went to the vet with Adam for the procedure. She had intended to watch, but at the last minute, decided she didn't want to see him actually die. She saw the first injection that relaxed him, then left the room for the fatal injection. Then she came back in after he was dead and petted him a little bit. She saw that he was not moving and that his eyes were still open.

I'm really glad we allowed her to choose what she would experience. If she hadn't gone to the vet at all, I don't think it would have been as real for her. And I was gratified that she was so independent in deciding what she wanted to see and what she didn't. I asked her if she felt sad but she said that she was really just curious about it.

I was really worried about how she would take this. She loved that cat. She tormented him constantly, but that was just the form of her love. She spent much more time with Jinx that Adam or I did. But the thing is, she doesn't seem too bothered by his death at all. I'm sure it will sink in a bit more as days go by and he isn't here anymore. But she hasn't shed a tear or even expressed any sadness. The worst thing for her seems to be seeing me cry. (I'm a big baby right now because of the hormones.) And one of the first things she said when she got home from the vet was "Mommy, now that Jinxie died, I hope that we can get a new cat. And when Toby dies, I hope we can get a new dog." I don't know if I should worry at her callousness, or if I should respect her value-focus.

Anyway, we had lots of good talks in the past week about death, expressing emotions, respect for life, kindness to living creatures, the meaning of pets, and how important it is not to allow the investment in your home be destroyed by the smell of cat urine.

Jokes aside, it was a sad day. Goodbye, Jinx.


  1. It's always sad to lose a pet. I love our cats. But, I agree about kids. They take their cue about things like the death of a pet from their parents. Trying to protect kids from the truth is a mistake. It's usually the adult trying to protect himself from discussing something uncomfortable. I love that you gave Sam choices about what she wanted to see.

  2. I'm sorry about your cat - those decisions are never easy to make. It sounds like you all handled it pretty well. We had to put our dog down early this year, and the kids had different reactions. None of them came with us to the vet - my husband and I were with him. Our 8 year old was sad, talking about Jake and crying a little. He'll even cry occasionally when remembering him, especially if I'm choked up. Our 4 year old was much more pragmatic - wondering about where he was, saying he was a good dog, and observing our sadness, but he didn't really express any. Now months later, he still hasn't been emotional about it. It seemed age appropriate to me, though it certainly could be a personality difference, too.