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The PANK Perspective: Pet Loss & Explaining Death To Children

The PANK Perspective (Professional Aunt, No Kids) – by Diane Morris

My brother and his wife bought a pure bred Golden Retriever the year before they got married. Their dog was beautiful; long blonde hair, big paws and large brown eyes. She was rebellious and always got into trouble. She liked to eat food off the counter, maul you when you walked through the door and bark incessantly at the mailman. She seemed to mellow out a bit as she aged, but remained playful – especially with my nephew.

When he was born, the dog took to him. They became buddies; curling up on the couch watching cartoons together, camping out in a homemade fort of blankets and furniture cushions and swimming in the lake together in the summer. My nephew considered the dog to be one of his first friends.

Suddenly and without warning, the dog passed away while playing with my parent’s dog. The vet said it was a heart attack. My poor Sister-In-Law was home alone with her two boys when it happened. My parents were away, my brother and I at work. My SIL had to explain to my nephew what happened.

“Sydney got sick and went to heaven” she first told him. Questions ensued.

Thinking later that telling him that the dog was sick wasn’t the best choice of explaining what happened. She feared that telling him that would cause him worry whenever he caught a cold, or someone in the family fell ill. So, she told him that it was simply the dog’s time to go to heaven. She described a place of peace above the clouds and that Sydney would be watching over him, but wouldn’t be back to play. He was confused.

When I saw him the next day to give my condolences to my brother & SIL, my nephew blurted out, “Aunt Dee, we don’t have a dog anymore.” I told him that I knew and that I was sorry that Sydney had to leave. He just looked at me and then asked if I wanted to play tag. I chased him around the living room wondering if he missed being chased by the dog.

For a few weeks after, he didn’t mention the dog much. We figured that since he’s so young, losing the family dog didn’t affect him as much as it had his parents who had raised her over the past 6 years. Then one day he asked his Mom, “Can Sydney come home and play now?” With tears in her eyes she explained to him once again that Sydney was gone and living in heaven. She asked him if he had any questions about heaven and he said no. Then just moments later he said, “I wish I had wings like Buzz Lightyear so I could fly above the clouds and visit Sydney.”

He understood that heaven was a place above the clouds, that he needed to fly there, and that Sydney was there. But did he understand that Sydney had died?

It was heartbreaking to hear the news of the sudden death of a young dog, and to hear the honest and innocent wish of my nephew. But, there is a part of me that is thankful that his first experience with death was from the family dog and not from a grandparent. Trying to explain to a child that they will never see someone they love again has got to be one of the most difficult conversations to have with your kid. I think my SIL did a good job and pet loss was a learning experience for her to prepare her for more conversations and explanations to come about life.

How did you handle explaining death to a child? What does death look like to a 4 year old? How do you prepare for that explanation?

 

About the Author:

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

Best tools for parent-to-kid communication.

Guest post by MamaDweeb.com founder, Annie Shultz.

 

Tae Kwon Do, dance, music, friends, volunteering and jobs – there are always at least a million things pulling your attention at one time. Of course, being organized increases productivity and decreases errant mistakes. But the big question is – what are the best tools to keep organized communication between spouses and children?

1. Command center

It’s been said the more clutter you have the more cluttered your thinking. So keep important papers and bills in files near the front door where they are easily found and yet not staring you in the face. With an organized command center, both spouses know where to find the permission slip or updated insurance card. And don’t forget the Write Away labels! Easily label your file folders and other boxes.

For command center ideas, check out Pinterest. We have some beautiful home organization pins you will fall in love with!

 

2. Calendar Sync

There are quite a few apps that sync devices. These are extremely helpful since both spouses can view the schedule and make changes as needed. Below are some of my personal favorites:

Cozi

This is one of the most popular apps for family calendar sharing because it is easy to use and has as many features as a new minivan. You can manage and share to-do lists (great for sharing grocery lists with your partner), schedules and alerts.

Google Calendar

I love how simple it is to sync Google Calendar across multiple devices and to share calendars with your spouse. If you want to keep a calendar only for spousal communication, think about setting up a join Gmail account. You can download Google mail and calendar apps for only this account to keep it separated from all the other parts of your life.

Skedi

Skedi is an iPhone calendar app that syncs with iCal, and Google Calendar. What sets this app apart is the ability to assign “person in charge.” This means if you have an event, you can assign a babysitter. The app will then email the babysitter so they can accept or decline. Then, the app records who is in charge for the evening.  This is a very time-saving feature and cuts down on “didn’t you schedule the sitter tonight?” confusion.

 

3. Face-to-face  business meetings

All the tools in the world can’t replace the meeting of the minds in real time. Schedule 15-20 minutes of face-to-face time. This is easier said than done…but it is vital. Go over the plan for the week, discuss desires and needs for time and really connect mentally.  It is so easy to allow the hectic plans to sweep us away into a void of eye contact and real talk. Try to make a moment to prevent it.

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie is a Kansas mom to three young children. She created MamaDweeb.com in 2009 and loves to inspire and connect with others through her writing. She also loves talking, dreaming, 90s pop and country music.

Recycling Mis-conceptions

Top blue box: Great recycling of plastics! Lower blue box: Incorrect recycling – hard plastic lids and candy bags are garbage.
Right: Cardboard ready for pick up – broken down is preferred, but stacked is just as good!

Are you confused (about recycling)?

Times change and we find ourselves standing in front of our blue boxes holding something that we’re not sure about where it goes. What was once sold in glass bottles (soft drinks) now comes in plastic bottles. What was once sold in a steel can (soup) now comes in tetrapak containers. The list gets longer every day and it makes it harder for us to “put waste in the right place”.

It’s enough to confuse most of us!

Liquids VS. solids

When it comes to most paper products, you can quickly tell what the “right place” for them is by following this rule:

  • If it contained a LIQUID (like milk and juice cartons), put it with your bottles, cans, and jars in your CONTAINERS blue box.
  • If it contained a SOLID (like cereal and cracker boxes), put it with your newspapers and magazines in your PAPERS blue box.

Sometimes it…

Looks like paper, feels like paper, but it doesn’t go with paper!

  • Juice, milk and soup cartons go in with your bottles, cans and jars in your containers blue box.  Which sometimes leads to confusion.
  • Paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, and paper coffee cups go in your green bin.

One more misconception de-mystified

Those little stickers on fruit – like on bananas and apples and oranges – DON’T compost! Make sure you take them off and throw them in the garbage.

 

Think you’re an award-winning recycler in Hamilton, Ontario?

Sign up at mygoldbox.ca for your chance to win the gold medal of recycling!

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