Chapter Six: Helping Children Grieve For Pets, A Six Year-Old Reviews AEW, University Update and Bizarre Google Search Terms
This chapter focuses on how my partner and I helped her six-year-old daughter with the grief of losing her pet cat. It also has my partner's son's thoughts on this week's AEW Dynamite, an update on my university issues and the strange search term that will get you to this site.
I was reading through my tribute to my dog, Mr. Blue, tonight, and it got me a little emotional. Seven months on, it still hurts that he is gone, and I still miss him dearly. As hard as I’ve found it without him since his passing, my partner’s daughter has had an even rougher time. She really liked Mr. Blue, even though she’d only met him a couple of times, and she was gutted when she was told he’d passed away. What made it even harder was that, within days, the neighbour’s dog that she loved playing with in the back garden passed away too. The ultimate heartbreak for her, though, was her cat at her dad’s house, who has been ‘her’ cat her whole life, developed an illness and died, almost overnight. Three animals she loved, all gone within days of each other. Her having to process death for the first real time, at six years old and with not one, but three to cope with, all of increasing devastation to her.
Dealing with something like this was something my partner and I had little-to-no experience with, no techniques to fall back on, no history to draw on as to how to manage such overwhelming grief in someone so young. At first, she was quiet, a little stunned maybe, possibly not really understanding the situation. As her mam explained what had happened, tears in her own eyes at the loss of a pet she herself had nurtured back to health after a savage attack by a fox, my partner’s daughter took it all in, then politely excused herself to her bedroom. We had a feeling she needed time alone, so we kept her brother downstairs to give her space. When she re-joined us, she was quiet, though she was trying to put on a brave face. At the time, I was sat at the kitchen table, writing an FPL article with some instrumental music on in the background – music that helps me a lot when writing, while also evoking emotions in me almost subconsciously.
As her mam was still upset, and talking about the poor cat, Loki, was bringing tears to her eyes, I called the daughter over for a chat. With her mam watching over us, I talked to her about Mr. Blue, about how upset I was that he had passed, how unfair it all felt but how it was for the best, because there’s nothing worse for a beloved animal than to have to live in pain. We talked about animal heaven, and she wondered if Mr. Blue would be up there, and if so, would he look after Loki? Of course he would, she was told. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d organised a little party to introduce Loki to everyone, or if they were playing with each other and chasing each other as we spoke. I told her that it’s ok to be sad, that it’s ok to be heartbroken. I said that I, so much older than her, was devastated that Mr. Blue was gone, and I know and understand death and can process it all. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for her, so much younger, with no experience, to have lost someone she had loved since her first day on the planet. As the instrumental music reached an emotional peak in the background of our conversation, I told her that it’s ok to cry, that her mam and I were here for her, and if she ever needed to talk or a hug, just to come to us, or her dad if she’s at his house. With that, she asked me for a hug, and she sobbed her little heart out on my shoulder. After a few moments of reassurance, empathy and compassion, during which I had to bite my own lip so as to be strong for her and her mam, she went over and hugged her mam and they let it all out.
In the months that followed, she’s struggled to come to terms with it all. Just after Christmas, she came up to me saying she missed Loki, which she had been doing increasingly so in the preceding weeks. It’s tough, because you want to be compassionate all the time, but you also want them to move on, to learn how to process the grief and remember the good times without every thought of the deceased bringing them out in tears. It was hard for me to have these conversations, too, because I’d never met Loki, and children struggle to talk in-depth about emotional things at the best of times. Wanting to help her move past the sadness, I asked her what her favourite memory of Loki was. She told me she loved it when he came and curled up on her bed, so I asked her if she would draw a picture of that, so that I could see what he looks like during her happiest memory.
She ran through to the front room with a big smile on her face, got her new that she’d received from Santa out, and she drew this lovely picture. Running through to show me, it was the first time I’d seen her smile when talking about the cat in weeks. I said to her, this is wonderful, but there’s still a lot of space on the paper. What other happy memories did she have? She ran back through to the living room, returning a few minutes later with an adorable picture of her giving him a treat. This is such a great picture, I said, and it’s helping me picture Loki so much better. There’s still a bit of space, though. Without even finishing the sentence, she ran back to the living room, then came back through laughing at the picture she’d drawn. What’s this, I asked, unable to really understand the picture. It’s Loki, she replied, jumping off the bed and biting my ear! He was a bitey boy!
There was a little space on the paper, so I suggested writing both their names. After doing that, I asked what his best personality traits were. He was friendly, he was cuddly, and he was a cutie-pie! They all got written down on the picture, too. I said to her, when you look at this picture, of your wonderful cat and all these happy memories, how do you feel? She said she felt a lot better, and instead of feeling sad, it made her feel happy. Why don’t we go and pin it on the wall next to your bed, I suggested, then when you feel sad, you can look at all these happy memories and feel happy again? She cheered, and said it was a great idea. So upstairs we went, and we pinned it next to her bed. After doing that, I asked her if it would help if she had a teddy bear cat that looked like Loki to cuddle. It wouldn’t be the same, but when you’re missing him, you could cuddle a teddy that looks like him, and remember the happy memories from the picture, and you could remember that, while he may not be here, anyone that lives on in our hearts is never really dead.
Of course, the teddy bear she wanted turned out to be the most expensive one we saw, but it was worth it. The teddy bear Loki has its own cushion next to her pillow, and she takes him around the house all the time. It really seems to have helped her move forward through the sadness, and now she remembers the happy memories and they make her smile. I wanted to share this story in case anyone else’s children lose a pet, and they need some ideas with how to support their children through it. If it helps, even a little, it’s worth a bash.
I’ve been watching a bit of New Japan Pro-Wrestling with my partner’s son recently, and he’s starting to get into it. I showed him Will Ospreay vs Ricochet from Best of Super Juniors and the athleticism and aerial combat blew his mind, even if his sister was a bit more dubious – “This doesn’t look like real fighting,” were her exact words. I’m not quite ready to break the illusion just yet, so I gave a semi-plausible explanation and moved on. The lad, though, he’s really enjoying it, to the point where, on Wednesday morning, he asked if we could watch some wrestling when he got back from his dad’s house on Thursday morning.
Well, this was perfect for me, because AEW Dynamite goes out on Wednesday nights. I could’ve watched it live, but I’m not keen on doing that as I worry about over-sleeping in the morning. So, after much consideration – and pre-warning him that there might be rude words which he is not allowed to repeat, that doing any of the moves onto his sister would mean him being banned from watching it, and that he had to promise to work hard on his schoolwork – I sat down to watch it with him on Thursday morning. These were his thoughts:
It was cool watching it with him. He kept going back to his tablet while it was on, but he was pretty engaged throughout. I don’t watch WWE anymore but it’s Royal Rumble on Sunday night, and I always watch that, so I might watch that with him on Monday and see what he thinks. Feels really nice to take something I love and pass it on to a younger generation. Could do without his sister pointing out all the signs of collaboration though! She’s wise beyond her years, that one. Her favourites are whoever is against the people I say are my favourites, the little tinker! She did love Jungle Boy too, though. That lad is going to be a star.
Some good news on the university front – I had a phone call the other day, my funding has come through, and they have reinstated me to my course. They have also offered me a three-week extension to my next assignment deadline, but I’m going to try and get it completed on time. It’s nice to know it’s there, but if I take longer over this one, it’s just going to eat into my time for the next one. Going to be a long weekend of grafting at my laptop to get as much done as possible, so my journals may be limited for the next week or two, but we’ll see. I enjoy writing these, and they provide a welcome distraction from the stresses of life while also keeping my writing sharp, so I’m sure I’ll find time to fit at least one in between now and February 9th, my assignment deadline.
A bit of a funny thing to finish on. I was looking through the Google Search Console for this website, and it shows you what searches bring people to your website. Apparently, the third most-popular search term that brings you here is ‘Ginger Gains!’ Now, this is because of an FPL Nightmare article when Ginger Ben had a good week, but it makes me chuckle to think this website, filled with mental health, Fantasy Premier League and personal essays about myself, is the twenty-third entry if you follow a search term based around red-headed weightlifters! What a world.
Thank you for reading, and for your continued support and sharing of my writing. Please feel free to leave comments, or to get in touch through the Contact page if you wish.
Song of the Chapter:
Tarzan Boy (Jungle Boy theme)
Quote of the Chapter:
“No-one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”
"One of the most insightful works I've read on mental health problems in men ... very well-written and a real page-turner. I would recommend it to anyone.
Dancing With Disorder
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