This is a picture of Rainbow Crabbie during better days.
Last night, we discovered that Ben's fish had died.
Now, fish don't last long...and I had thought about Crabbie's inevitable demise many times. This colorful betta fish was a Christmas gift almost two years ago...so, really, he had a pretty good run. But, that didn't matter to Ben.
He was inconsolable. Cried and cried for quite awhile. So, in that time, my husband and I took turns hugging him, struggling for just the right words to say to our sad 7 year old. My parents' beloved elderly dog died a few years ago and we've lost two neighbors who were close to us. But, Ben took the loss of his fish the hardest.
He fed Crabbie...and helped to clean the bowl. So, he seemed to take real ownership of this fish.
"He was MY PET. MY fish," he sobbed. "It is just so hard to let him go."
I thought that was a really profound thing to say. It is hard to let our loved ones go. It can feel so unfair.
We talked a bit about how it was "his time" and how he was a happy fish...with a good life...thanks to Ben's care. We don't typically pray a lot...but, in my quest to find the right words, we said a little prayer to the Big Guy...and asked him to watch over Crabbie, a beautiful, graceful fish who we will always remember. This seemed to bring Ben some comfort.
The Final Flush just didn't seem appropriate for Crabbie...Ben was adament that we bury him in the outskirts of the backyard. My husband, Paul, created a rather ingenious coffin out of an envelope box and dug a hole on this frosty morning. Before school, we all headed to the yard where Ben said goodbye to Crabbie and covered the box with dirt.
"Sleep in heavenly peace, Crabbie," Ben said bravely. "I love you."
Yes, Crabbie was just a fish...and we still have Sam's betta, Spots Dementor, and Oscar, our wonderful, old house cat. But, this episode seemed to really touch my little boy and teach him a lot about life and death. I'm proud of him...of the emotion he showed and felt....and of all the wonderful words he used to express himself.
Here are some tips about how to handle the death of a pet...please share your stories.
How did you help your child understand the loss of a fish, dog, cat or hamster?