Yesterday, a few hours before dismissal, I received an email from Luca’s teacher. She had taken the time to send it to all the parents, something for which I am so grateful.
Our classroom pet, “Whiskers,” the hamster, came to the end of his lifetime this morning. He was an old hamster; here before many of the children began attendance in the classroom. We explained to the children that he had come to the end of his lifetime and is no longer living. Death was explained as a cycle of nature – that his body was not alive and that it would change, get smaller and go back into the garden to give back to the trees.
We will read from a book, “Lifetimes” by Bryan Mellonie. Your children’s questions may bring an opportunity for you to explain your family’s perspective and faith.
I knew the day, the one I’ve been dreading from the moment I had kids, was coming. And, sure enough, it finally came, in the form of a dead Hamster named Whiskers.
I made sure to be at the front of the dismissal line earlier than most days. I was going over questions he may ask in my head, and reminding myself not to project my fears onto him. Just because I’ve always had this great fear of death and loss, doesn’t mean he will.
He was okay when he hopped into the car, smiling even.
I waited a few minutes before bringing it up.
So, I heard about Whiskers, buddy.
Yeah, he died.
Yeah, your teacher told me. How do you feel?
That’s what I figured. I feel sad, too.
Mommy, every living thing dies, right?
Yes. All living things die.
Except for people. People don’t die right?
No, people die, too, buddy. But, people live a long time, a lot longer than they used to. It’s not something you need to worry about, okay?
So, people will die when they turn 1,000?
Well, it’s different for everyone. There’s no exact number – but, usually, it’s when they’re really old.
< Lots of silence and thinking on both our parts >
Hey, how about we go to the bakery and buy a cake for Whiskers?
But, he’s dead, mommy.
I know, but we can still celebrate what a long and happy life he had? It will be our Celebration of Whiskers cake!
We got home with our Celebration of Whiskers’ Life Christmas cake and, immediately, cut ourselves a huge slice.
Then, we clinked forks and shouted, “To Whiskers!”
To Whiskers, indeed.