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Sad

By Melissa Young

Our little pet rabbit died today.

It’s been a tough afternoon, and all of the post ideas I had floating around in my mind seem flat and unimportant. Ironic, because to most people the death of a pet sounds flat and unimportant.

But here in the four walls of our universe, it’s our own small tragedy. We got him for Christmas, so we’ve had him for almost eight months. We watched him grow from a tiny fluff ball into a big fluff ball. We loved it when he did a “binky”—a random, springy jump that is a rabbit expression of joy.

Last night he was fine. This morning he was sick. This afternoon he died.

The kids are teary, becoming raw with the question “why?” It’s their first time through the valley of the shadow. The idea that sometimes there is no “why” feels like a hollow outrage and hurts almost as much as the loss itself.

I’m feeling jarred by the image of our little pet being laid into the dirt—the familiar fur looking strange on the stiff, unanimated body. The empty corner in the kitchen has left a dull sort of awe at the fragility of life and an almost panic at the thought of losing more than a pet.

I know that we will all heal, that in a few weeks (or months) the memory of our pet will be happy. But tonight, when our hearts are sore and void in a space that didn’t even exist eight months ago, I wonder about that old cliché that it’s better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all.

I really do.

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About Melissa Young

(Emerita) is a native of Utah and lives in Cache Valley, Utah, with her husband and three of her four children in their emptying nest. She has an MA in TESOL from Brigham Young University and currently volunteers with the English Learning Center.

13 thoughts on “Sad”

  1. I'm sorry that your family is hurting. Loss is loss, regardless of the dimensions or classification of the object lost.

    As for the 'better to have loved' cliche – I have my doubts too. It would certainly be less painful. Here's to hoping your happy memories become easier and more obvious, quickly.

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  2. I know how hard this is. We have a rabbit, 3 guinea pigs, and 2 hamsters buried in our garden. We had Holly, the rabbit for nearly 8 years. They do become loved and part of life. I have to say my husband cried more than the children when Holly died earlier this year. Losing them is hard, especially for children. I do think it is worth it though, you can never have too much lov ein your life.

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  3. Which is why I'm too much of a wimp to get a pet. As silly as it is, I am scared of losing it, and having to explain to my babies about death.

    How wrong is that? Very wrong. And yet it is the way I feel!

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  4. When I was a kid I had pet rats for many years. Rats only live for about 2-3 years before they die, so I went through this a lot. We have several photos in our albums of rat funerals through the years. One of my first major experiences with answers to prayers was when I was about 11 or so and I was feeling sad because my rat died and I was able to pray about it and feel comfort. I think pets are good for kids in many ways; they can be hard, but still good.

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  5. I remember when my first pet died, she was a beautiful long hair black cat appropriately named "fluffy." It was sad, and I think any pet dying can be hard on a family, regardless of how long it lived with you.

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  6. I read this post earlier, but couldn't comment because tears were streaming down my face.

    Losing a pet is so hard. I lost a dog about two years ago and even though the pain is less, it still hurts sometimes.

    You are in my prayers.

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  7. This was so beautiful, Melissa! This was such a great line: "The idea that sometimes there is no 'why' feels like a hollow outrage and hurts almost as much as the loss itself."

    I am dreading losing our beloved springer spaniel, whenever that time comes—I know that the grief will be deeper than we ever imagined, especially before we had a pet, and I, too, will question the wisdom of making ourselves vulnerable to that kind of pain. But, oh, how we enjoy having her in our family!

    My heart goes out to you and your children tonight. And I hope the void fills soon.

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  8. It's always hard to lose a pet to death, but I find a great deal of comfort knowing that we had some awesome times together and that I'll see them again. Sometimes I like to imagine that the spirits of my cats and dog are following me around in a long long train. 🙂 I will never regret loving an animal–they make me a better person.

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  9. Pet deaths always traumatized my sweet sensitive mother. As she'd try to come to grips with it, she'd terrorize us with the merry-go-round song from My Turn on Earth. Her heart was in the right place, but as a kid, it left me petrified with fear that my turn or my family's might be one of the short ones.

    One of my sweetest memories is when my 18 year old, completely inactive brother cried at the death of a baby bat we'd saved and raised. He requested that I say a prayer at the funeral.

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  10. I too have wondered about "it’s better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all." A baby chick died tragically and needlessly at our house this spring and I kicked myself for bringing that risk and hurt into our home when we were already so fragile.

    But, I'm convinced that the loss of pets and the tears shed endows us with an extra sensitivity for all loss and a bright awareness of the fragility of all life.

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  11. So sorry about your loss. I lost my bunny in April, after 12 years with him. The loss was definitely harder on me than it was on my almost-4-year-old son, who has pure and simple ideas of death and heaven (and often tells me he is excited to get old and die so he can see Jesus and Heavenly Father and Mocha (the bunny) again). Still, my son talks about the bunny and prays for him at least once every day. I am glad we had him in our lives for as long as we did, even though losing him has been hard on us all. With time, when the pain of loss is not quite so fresh for you and your children, I am sure you all will feel the same about your sweet rabbit.

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