We lost a guinea pig.
It was hard. It was hard to see such raw emotion in my children. I was unprepared for what I felt as well. Watching the children grieve this little animal…the things they said…the things they wanted to do in memory of this creature…felt so familiar.
At first, it bothered me that they were grieving this pet the way I grieved my daughter, but then I realized they had cared for Aztec the way I cared for Emmy. Aztec depended on them. They felt like they had maybe done something wrong or could have done something different. They wanted to keep Aztec’s body forever. They didn’t want to leave Aztec here if we ever moved. They wanted a lock of hair and some pictures.
I let them grieve. I grieved with them. We talked and talked and talked. My 11 year old immediately went to his Bible to find solace. When it came time to decorate a box to put Aztec in, he chose Ecclesiates 3:2 to put on the side of the box. We all contributed to the decorating of the box. Then Daddy and Blake dug a hole, Megan gently placed the box in the hole and all the children helped fill the hole back in.
As I watched them fill the hole, I felt a terror race through my body. I forced myself to stand there and be strong for the children as tears streamed down my face. I kept seeing my own grief. I kept seeing my own pain. What I was feeling had very little to do with poor little Aztec.
My children have never lost a pet, and had this pet died several years ago, it probably wouldn’t have held quite the amount of sorrow it held for all of us. I probably would have made some flippant comment about the pig kicking the bucket rather than realizing how painful this truly was for my children. I would have just found some old box, scooped the guinea pig up and buried it wherever I felt was a convenient spot. I never would have left the cage for my son to put away in his own time and I would have probably expected my children to just “get over it” in a neat and tidy time frame.
Instead I am compassionate and much more patient with the healing process.