The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Soulfish: Books to Help Kids When a Pet Dies

Posted in soulfish by Juliet on May 6, 2010

Our cat Sidekick had been living with kidney failure for awhile but when he went downhill fast, we had to put him down two weeks ago. It all happened in a sad sort of whirlwind, and I am embarrassed to say that I sort of forgot about the kids. I was very wrapped up in my own responsibility, and grief, and scheduling. (We euthanized him between a work shift at the co-op preschool and violin lessons.)

There is nothing like watching a beloved creature who has become a member of the family melt in your arms as the death-drug takes effect to slow the pace of life. At the end, he weighed as much as a kitten, and his head looked comically huge because he was a big cat, with broad shoulders and a long body. He barely fought me off when I put him in his carrier for that last one-way trip to the vet.

He looked a little perkier the last time we saw him because he’d been given IV fluids, but even on pain meds, his spine was rigid with discomfort. When the shot took effect, his spine collapsed into my arms. I left and Scott stayed with him until the end and brought him home wrapped in a towel to bury him in the yard.

The next day, I brought home these books, which I wholeheartedly recommend:

For Jane, who is four: When a Pet Dies by Mr Rogers. I love this book. We read it to Eva when she was Jane’s age and Polo died. The pictures, especially of the vet’s office and the dad digging a grave to bury the pet, are realistic and reassuring. This book helped open a dialogue with both kids about death. I learned that the kids had questions and fears I hadn’t even considered, like why Sidekick’s arm looked hurt (they shaved his arm to insert the IV and wrapped it in a bandage.)

For Eva, who just turned eight: Remembering My Pet: A Kid’s Own Spiritual Workbook for When a Pet Dies by Nechama Liss-Levinson, PhD and Rev. Molly Phinney Baskette, MDiv. Eva is at an age when she loves hands-on books where she can answer quizzes, fill in the blanks, or add pictures. The simple explanations are broad enough to encompass many philosophical or religious points of view.

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