Today Lil’ Orange died. Lil’ Orange was our granddaughter Anna’s pet goldfish. Anna is two years old, so Lil’ Orange’s death came as a complete surprise to her. I’m told she was sobbing and crying out for her ‘baby fish’. It is heartbreaking and I wanted to rush to her side! I’m certain that a replacement later today will ease her pain. Until then Goldie, the surviving goldfish, will have the bowl to herself. FYI – all goldfish are girls according to Anna.
The death of Lil’ Orange has upset me, too. Anna now has to confront death. She has to learn that nothing or no one lasts forever. And she may or may not find solace in the idea of “fish heaven”. A tiny piece of her innocence is gone forever…
This is one of those “teachable moments” that some parents hope for and all parents must face. The first loss most children experience is the death of a pet. Of course, now Anna is very focused on this event – what does it mean that Lil’ Orange died? This is a great opportunity for Mommy and Daddy to teach her about death and new life. Her sadness will be temporary but the knowledge and understanding that she gains should last her lifetime.
No parent (or grandparent) wants to see a two year old grieve but hopefully with tenderness and patience, Anna will come to accept Lil’ Orange’s passing as part of God’s greater plan. She will find comfort in knowing that Mommy and Daddy care about her loss. She will be consoled by their concern toward her and her pet. And she will understand that sometimes bad things happen, but love always remains.
I still want to rush to her side, hug her and kiss away her tears. I’d like to lie to her and tell her that Lil’ Orange was just taking a nap and will be back soon. But I know that my daughter and son-in-law are smarter than that. They will use this “teachable moment” to educate Anna and instill in her compassion and love – the same compassion and love that they will show her during this agonizing time. Now, I need a hug…
Lil’ Orange R.I.P.