Today we had to say goodbye to our sweet Bailey boy, who made it to the ripe old age of 15 just two days ago. It's never easy to say goodbye to a beloved pet, and even harder to know when and how to tell the rest of the pack (i.e. kids). What is inevitable are the conversations that ensue about love and family and pets and death, and the different way each child handles it all.
One child fought it. He asked if the decision could be delayed or changed, if there were things we could do to treat all of Bailey's multiple symptoms in order to keep him with us longer. This child is the problem solver, the so-loyal-to-the-end-that-I-never-want-the-end-to-come guy.
The other child accepted it, but fought to assimilate the information into his knowledge about life. What it would mean to us as a family? How he would cope? Could he talk about it with his friends? Where would Bailey go after he was gone? Heaven, reincarnation and the power of love were a big part of the conversation.
Regardless of our faith, we all need a way to understand how loving, vibrant souls cease to be just because their physical bodies have worn out. Many (including me) believe the souls go on living. Maybe they go to Heaven to be reunited with others who have gone before, and enjoy an eternity of joy and painless existence. Or maybe they come back to the world in another form, perhaps to cross paths with those who loved them before, in order to teach or learn new lessons. No one knows. But exploring the possibilities, and finding the one that brings us the most peace and comfort, and the ability to live with the hurt, is part of how we grieve and let go. For this pack anyway.