This has been a rough week in our house. Our beloved guinea pig, Pikachu died last week. He has been a part of our family for over two years. He was our first real pet. Before his arrival, we had only had a hand full of fish and some hermit crabs. We didn’t have the type of pet that you can hold and bond with. Pikachu wasn’t the easiest to love. He often didn’t want to leave his cage when the kids would come to play with him. I think he may have been a little scared of them. His favorite past times were eating and hiding from us. He became big and didn’t seem to move too much… yet we loved him anyway.
In the last few weeks, Pikachu didn’t seem as interested in his food. Pikachu starting looking to us for attention. When I would go to feed him, he would wait at the door and look for us to hold him and pet him. He let the kids play with him and take him throughout the house. I wondered if the personality change meant something was wrong. A few weeks later, he was gone.
The kids, especially my oldest did not take well to his death. We didn’t beat around the bush and told him outright that he had died. There is no sugar coating news like this. We had a memorial service for him, where we shared what we loved about him. There have been lots of tears and questions. My daily routine has been impacted by not having him to care for. Every time I eat oranges or slice up vegetables, I think about how I want to go over and share it with him. Loss is hard.
The following day, our lizard, Sheldon died. We found her lying lifeless in her tank. Sheldon was our replacement lizard for Lizzie, who ran away over the summer.
A few days later, our beta fish Ocean died. The next day, his buddy and rival, Appalachian died. They had shared a tank that had a partition so they wouldn’t kill each other.
We went from a family with five pets to a one pet family. The kids worry that our puppy, Reese will be next to go. We assure them that he is young and healthy. They wonder why so many of our beloved pet family had to go to heaven, all at once. I can’t answer that question. It’s been one thing after another in so many respects in this household this year. The saying “when it rains, it pours” has been fitting around here. I have been looking for my umbrella all year long to shield us from the deluge of challenges that have been thrown our way. However, with each loss these past weeks, the kids seem to get over it quicker. I wonder if they are becoming desensitized to loss or if their reaction is a sign of their resilience?
Their reactions makes me think about those that I have worked with who are exposed to trauma, abuse, and neglect on a regular basis who become accustomed to this type of treatment. It becomes the rule as opposed to the exception to the rule. Many may feel they deserve this type of treatment. It may be all they know. While others don’t react to each horrible event in order to get by. This type of reaction may be seen as a coping mechanism. It is physically and emotionally exhausting to fall apart every time something bad happens. Accepting that bad things are a part of life or being able to tune them out allows a person to get through horrible and challenging life events.
As for my kids, I am hoping that their exposure to loss ends here. I am certainly not running out to buy any replacements for our beloved pets. They will have to appreciate the pet that they have left.