This text came from my seven-year-old granddaughter: “Nina died. We had to put her down. 🙁 ”
Without knowing it, my youngest granddaughter had told me that my amazing daughter and son-in-law had prepared their daughters for the death of their beloved dog.
How did I gage this from an 8-word-text? The word ‘died’ said it all. I was grateful that the girls had not been handed ill-serving euphemisms about death at a time when their grief needed to be honored.
Later, when my granddaughters and I FaceTimed, my admiration for my daughter and son-in-law grew. “The vet came to the house. And we buried Nina in the back yard,” the girls told me.
I was so grateful that my granddaughters had been allowed tears and goodbyes.
“It hurts when someone we love dies,” I said, leaving space for their silence. They nodded.
When they were ready, the girls and my hubby and I reminisced about Nina. In the field of “Grief and Loss,” reminiscing is known as Life Review. The process is important for integrating the absence of a loved one by grounding us in today while we gently visit memories.
My daughter’s family will continue to weave in and out of Life Review for as long as it takes them to mourn. During this time there will be tears, silence and laughter. The process helps integrate their grief surrounding Nina, a tiny fourteen-year-old Jack Russell, whose life and death taught the most important lessons children should learn: empathy, love, and the courage to cry when it is time to bury the dead.
In Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote:
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.
That is exactly the process my granddaughter started when she texted me. Her sad face icon 🙁 spoke the universal truth; it hurts when someone we love dies.
Creative and non-fiction writing have been a lifelong passion for Sue Cleveland. Her current focus is writing middle-grade mysteries, as well as memoir-style short stories, many of which are actively in submission to publishers and literary journals.
Photo: Tot Schlor