Interesting Conversations


It seems like several people I know have lost grandparents recently and have had the difficult task of talking to small children about death and loss. Luckily for us, our conversations around loss have only centered on the recent death of our family cat. It’s been surprising to me how much my daughter has been talking about death since we lost Jasper. As the days have gone by and I’ve come to terms with the decision I had to make, our conversations around death have become more and more interesting. She speaks in a very matter of fact way and doesn’t seem overly worried or concerned about the things she’s saying. Some of the stuff she says makes me sad and some of it just makes me crack up (after she goes to bed of course). It’s too bad adults can’t remember what it’s like to be three years old and that my daughter will never remember some of the things she’s been saying. Also, I’m not sure if these things are as funny when I write them down as they were when she said them, so if this blog post seems morbid and weird, I’m really sorry.

(Spoken to herself while sitting at the dinner table, overheard by my husband)
M: Dad is doing the dishes, Mom is in the bathroom, sister is throwing food on the floor, Izzie (the dog) is waiting to clean up the food and Jasper is dead.

(Pointing at growth chart on the wall)
M: I used to be this tall, now I’m this tall, then I’ll be this tall, and this tall, and this tall, and then I’ll die.

Me: Your sister had diarrhea because she ate too many blueberries.
M: So she’ll probably die.
(I think she said this because diarrhea starts with the word “die.”)

(After she picked out socks with a black cat on them for me for my birthday)
M: Now you don’t have to be sad about Jasper anymore because she’s on your socks. You can just look at your socks.

M: I have blue eyes and you have brown eyes.
Me: And why is that?
M: Because we’re all a little different.
Me: Yep!
M: But we all have eyes.
Me: Yes, most people do.
M: And we all die.

Death is a hard part of life, especially for those left behind. I’m so thankful that I haven’t had to deal with losing a close friend or relative, but it’s been surprising how much talk of death the loss of our cat has brought into our home. Even though she was a part of our family, I’m glad that all of this talk is just about the cat. I can’t imagine I’d find her comments as interesting and amusing otherwise.

*I am wishing for strength and courage for those parents I know out there who are dealing with more significant loss in their children’s lives. I hope they can find some comfort in the memories of their loved ones and in their children’s innocence.

7 comments on “Interesting Conversations”

  1. When my niece was about 3, one of the family cats was hit by a car and died. Somehow that morphed into a lesson about not playing in the road — she would explain “we don’t play in the road, because you’ll get hit by a car and Daddy will bury you in the backyard in a cardboard box next to Socks.”

  2. Jenn, I think we share the same sense of humor. I found her comments to be pretty funny. It’s because in their innocent delivery they are so matter-of-fact. Zoey is like that about our dogs and while I don’t want to make her hold these feelings in, I wonder if I need to talk to her about the time and place for the “my dog’s dead” comments. Especially when we (the grown-ups in the house) are all still so very sad about the losses. On the other hand, we should maybe learn from her and not bury our own feelings, but talk about them more normally.

  3. I think it’s so great that you have talked to your kids about death. I know that sounds weird, but I think that you know what I mean. And these little conversations literally made me laugh out loud! I lost my Dad last September and have yet to talk about death with my daughter … I just say he’s in Heaven, in our hearts, and is keeping an eye on us. You’re making me feel kind of bold about broaching the subject with my toddler. And to be perfectly honest, I am almost completely positive that my Dad would love the honesty of a 3 year old’s perspective in regard to death. Loved this post, Jenn.

  4. SO glad you are writing these down, Jenn. They are priceless, and your daughter is so grounded on this issue. You obviously did a great job explaining death to her.

    The cat socks story DID ME IN. What a poignant and thoughtful gift, AND how wonderful that your daughter understands your sadness is specifically about Jasper, and that it can end.

    Wow — isn’t Jasper the gift that keeps on giving, teaching these valuable lessons?

    1. Who knew that cat that I got when I lived alone my freshman year of college would someday help me teach my oldest daughter about death and dying?!

  5. I think that losing a pet, as hard as it is, is as gentle a way to help kids learn about and experience death and loss. I love their honesty and directness with it; it’s not rude, it just “is what it is.”

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