The Concept.

Last week our dog died.

It was all pretty sudden. One day Nelson was there and the next day he wasn’t.

Explaining to a three year old about death is not an easy thing.

We talked about how he was a very sick puppy and that he had to go to the vet but the whole concept of death and dying has been quite difficult to turn into a concrete…thing.

Noah keeps talking about when Nelson comes home and how much he is going to stroke him and cuddle him and tell him he is a good boy. He brings Nelson up at least ten times a day as he tries to work his way around the idea that his beloved friend is not coming home.

Ivy however has understood right from that first night when Nelson was taken to the vet.

The first thing she asked was if the dog was going to have a needle and some IVIG to make him better.

We told her yes, he was going to have medicine through the drip, fluids, so he wasn’t thirsty anymore but we were not sure if it would make him better.

The next day she asked us if Nelson was going to be with Shadow (my Mum’s dog, who had died just weeks before).

It was quite eery.

At that stage we didn’t know. Everything was still up in the air.

Noah had been quiet through all of this or he talked about ‘when (his) friend came home’ but there was no forward thinking about what would happen if he didn’t.

When we told the kids, everyone was sad. The big kids didn’t say alot but there were tears and a few¬† ponderings about dog heaven. Ivy and Noah seemed oblivious to it all but over the weekend a strange thing occured.

Ivy seemed to understand fully what had happened, for every chant of ‘when my friend Nelson comes home’ uttered from her brother’s mouth, she would counter with a ‘No, Nelsie’s not coming home, he’s gone to be with Shadow’.

She was very calm about it, even when Noah became quite distraught with her

and I wondered if her ability to accept this had anything to do with all that she has experienced.

Certainly, she is more worldly wise than her brother, who cries if he scrapes his knee. Her courage and sensibility over medical procedures has perhaps given her some skills in dealing with the more traumatic events in her life and death is a concept she seemed to grasp, even at 3.

Tonight I found them huddled in her bed. He was lying on his side, her arm was around him in a protective hug and she was stroking his hair.

“It’s okay”, she said to him, “he doesn’t hurt anymore”

and for me, that sealed the deal.

Her understanding is profound.

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