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The Art of Talking About Death with Kids

Show Notes

I’ve struggled a while with addressing this topic.

I don’t have human children, never wanted one. So who was I to host a podcast on how to talk to kids about the family pet dying?

But I remembered that all I had to do was put on my old journalist hat and ask the right questions.

First question: who can answer those questions?

Of course, my good friend Coleen Ellis of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center can.

Coleen is also my mentor in pet loss grief companioning.

With Dr. Mary Gardner, cofounder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, Coleen has written two books to guide children through their grief. Both are called “My Forever Friend.” One is for saying goodbye to a special dog and the other for saying goodbye to a special cat.

Each one — and the links to purchase are in the show notes — contains activities for parents and children to work through together.

Coleen, who also doesn’t have skin children, a term I learned from Coleen, is quite easily the kind of person you can trust to accompany your kids on this grief journey.

She’s dynamic and engaging and most importantly empathetic and compassionate.

Have a listen as we talk through this important subject.

What to listen for

  • How Coleen guides children through their grief with a collaborative, empathetic approach
  • The importance of letting children grieve and process their emotions their own way
  • Why we should use clear language when discussing death with children
  • Involving children in the planning for and day of euthanasia

Where to find Coleen

Coleen Rocks

Two Hearts Pet Loss Center

Forever Friend: A children’s guide and activity book for saying goodbye to a special dog (Amazon)

Forever Friend: A children’s guide and activity book for saying goodbye to a special cat (Amazon)

Transcript

Angela  

So I was talking to Beth Bigler the other day and she was appearing for the third time on One Last Network and as are you, Coleen Ellis, and I’m thinking that once we get to five, we need to have a Saturday Night Live host jacket type thing. What what color?

Coleen 

Pink! Girl, my signature color. Pink? Yes, that’s it. It needs glitter and sparkle, glitter and sparkle.

Angela  

So much sparkle. How are you my love?

Coleen 

Great, how are you friend?

Angela  

I am so good. So good. Thanks. Yeah,

Coleen 

I know, it started off so cool. And you know what? To you, my friend, for the flag you carry, to educate in this space? Priceless. I mean, absolutely priceless. We got so many people out there that just, that are wandering in the dark and are looking for validation. They’re looking for permission, you know, to feel the way they feel and to do the things they want to do and because of you and your education, thank you for that. Thank you.

Angela  

I appreciate that. I wouldn’t be here without you, though.

Coleen 

Well, you know what, it’s a village. It takes a village to do all this and I’m just happy to be in your village. Just you might be a little crazy sometimes in your village because you’re kind of, you’re kind of Chief Crazy. But I love Chief Crazy.

Angela  

Well, if I need a mayor, it’s Mayor Coleen.

Coleen 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m, I’m applying. Alright, I’m applying. We’re sure. Yeah, let’s do this sister students.

Angela  

Yeah, my girl. We’re talking about how to talk to children. Are we the right people? Because we don’t have we don’t have skin children. But you’re an expert. You’re an expert on all things pet loss. So I knew, I knew that you would be the right person.

Coleen 

I do I don’t know that. I’m an expert, because I’m a forever student of the learning. But I want to there’s a there’s a book right back here. And I’ve actually got two of them out with my dear, dear, dear, dear friend, and colleague, Dr. Mary Gardner, one of the cofounders of Lap of Love. And her and I are just like you she didn’t have skin children either. And but both of us have sat in thousands of homes, both of us have sat with thousands of families, where children are a part of it, and trying to figure out what what they should be doing, what they could be doing what they want to do, when it comes to the death of this creature who has been a part of the family in their home.

And both of us have had been witness, Mary and I have been witness to, you know, the upheaval that can happen the everybody’s just out of sorts, you know, it’s chaos when it’s going on. And children, many times are just absorbing and taking it in and again, trying to figure out where they fit and what they should be doing. Right. And it could also be because they’re in this home where big boys don’t cry. And so they want to, but they don’t have permission to do that. They’re in this home where maybe questions, their questions haven’t been answered. And so instead of getting raw, honest answers from their, their, their adult figures, their their parents, whomever, they don’t get them, so they make them up, or they go to the playground and they ask their friends. And so they try to find these answers because they want answers. They want to know what’s going on. So I’m going to, I’m going to stand really tall and I’m gonna come back to this book for a second.

When Mary and I released the two books, one is for doggy and one is for kitty. When we when we released the books we did we call them children’s books, right? And then we got to talking and I said, you know, the real power of these books is that they’re a family book. It should never be given to the child to say here process your grief. And here’s some active mourning tasks that you can do to help bring your grief out. And okay, go. All right, draw the picture, do the crossword puzzle, write the blog, whatever it is. The power of that book, is when we sit down with the child and say, What’s one of the what’s one of the things that you’ll always remember about buddy, what’s one of the things that you miss most about buddy and I want to share what I miss most to so now this child can see that this is a very, this is a very normal part of life that we’re going to cry. And we’re going to, we’re going to talk about the things that make us sad. And we’re going to talk about the things that we’re going to miss and what we learned and all these other beautiful, beautiful things. And it’s going to be a collaboration, it’s going to be a sharing of what of what that is. And if you want to cry, permission to cry, because you know what Mommy wants to cry, too, because I miss him. And I miss him a lot.

And so I want to, I want to tell a couple stories, Angela, you know, I do that. So one of the most profound stories for me, was this, this, the situation was this, we were called to a home and Oscar the the Boxer was to be to be, was to be euthanized. Okay. And so the time was set, we were supposed to that was supposed to arrive, we were supposed to arrive. Oscar was going to come with us. And you know, we were going to perform the cremation and do what we needed to do, right. So before all of us arrived, Lily, four year old Lily, was taken next door to the neighbor. And then all of us came and and happened with Oscar and it was what it was, we’ll never forget, my stepson gets back to the pet funeral home. And he says to me, Well, I think we better hold on to Oscar, I just get a feeling mommy and daddy are gonna want to come in again and see him, which happened at our place all the time. Okay. So that evening, I make a call to Oscar’s mommy to check in as the other donor of which I always did. And so we were chatting. And I said, she said, Yes, indeed, we do want to come in tomorrow to see Oscar and to have a visitation, if you will, right. And so I said, my dog recommend that you bring Lily. And she said, Oh my goodness, oh, my goodness.

And she said, what every parent says to me, what if she cries? And I said she will? She will, Kate, it’s going to happen. She’s going to cry. And she said, Oh, gosh, I don’t know what you know, I hope it’s going to be okay. I’m going to talk to my husband. And I said, Well, let me tell you what he’s gonna say. He’s going to say, we’ve already closed that up. Let’s not open it back up again. And she’s fine. Okay. She’ll be fine. I said that. That’s what you’ll say. And then she said, Well, what am I supposed to say to her? Because I’ve already told her Oscar’s gone to heaven. Okay. You’re gonna love this, Angela. So I said, Let’s do this. I said, when you get off the phone, why don’t you tell her that you had a little phone call with God? And God called to tell you to tell me, mommy, that the ang angels were backed up in the wing making department so Oscar didn’t actually get his wings today, because they’re they’re backed up in the wings couldn’t get made today. And I said, let’s try that. Let’s see what happens. So she hangs up, tells her husband husband says exactly what I said. Let it go. She’s like, I don’t think so. Okay. And so then she goes in and tells literally what I just said, she said, Hey, I just found out that the angels are backed up in the wing making department and Oscar didn’t get his wings. Lily Trump’s to her room, grabs her purse, and says to Mommy, where will we go to say goodbye? Because I didn’t get to say goodbye to him. Okay, beautiful.

So here’s our first takeaway, Angela. Children are organic mourners, and we need to let them do what they do best, which is they do it beautifully. We as adults believe because we have life and death experiences. We know best. And that’s not true. We need to let a child let it lead us in the dance. Okay. All right. So there’s lesson one. Lesson Two played out when they came in, and I’ll give you a lesson to hear in a minute. So they came in, I greeted them. I explained to Lily what she was going to see when we went into the room. Oscar’s going to look exactly as she remembered. His little ears were floppy. He might be a little chilly because I had to chill him so he was he got a little cold last night these okay Stella blanket on him now he’s fine. And you can kiss him. In fact, I gave her a little too but Clinique free takeaway lipstick and gave her a little tube and I said, put it on and you could kiss them so he’s got little kisses on his head, do whatever you need to do. Okay. So we walk in, and of course she did. She cried, crotch. crotch crack threw her arms around him scratch, scratch cried. Now second lesson. Children dose themselves. This is where we as adults can take a lesson from a child, children dose themselves so they go In, they come out, they go in, they come out. So she cried. She cried, she cries. And she looks up at me and she says, mescaline. I saw that you had some books out front. Might I might we go see those? I said, Yes, we can. Let’s go see those books. So I take her leave mommy and daddy with Oscar. I take her we go out and look at books. She’s looking at books. Miss Coleen and I go in to see Oscar again. Yes, you can. Let’s go see Oscar again. So we do we go back in? And a little bit, she says, Miss clean, I saw that you had some something else out there? Can we go look at it? Yes, we can. So we go out again. So they dose themselves in, we need to let them do that. That’s how they do it. Okay.

Now the other thing that I do as a professional in my field, the other thing I do when there are parents of children, I tell the parents, please have the children write down all their questions that maybe I’m the only one that can answer for them. And I’m going to answer them for them. Okay. And Andrew, I’ve had questions such as, How hot does the machine get? Very scientific, little boy that wanted to know those. I’ve had questions about how will my big Great Dane fit into that little tiny box? How did that happen? Some beautiful books out there on explaining cremation to children. And so I let them ask me whatever they want to ask me. Because I don’t want them. Remember what I said a bit ago? If they don’t know the answer, they make it up. Right? I don’t want them making it up. I want them to understand the process. I want them to have permission. My answer when anybody child or adult. When anybody asks me, do pets go to heaven? The only answer that matters is theirs. And so when a child asked me, I let their answer matter, what do you want to believe? I had one little boy said, mescaline, do you think do you think my doggy went to happen? And I said, Hey, guy, what do you think? What do you think? Because that’s the only thing that matters. And he goes, but yeah, and there’s chocolate chip cookies there too.

Me Nope. So many of us use precious if so I want them to I want them to be empowered, I want them to, to know that, that everything that they feel is, is right in is okay. And they’re going to miss them. And they’re going to cry. And I want them to know how to do that. And the beauty of books like what my Mary and I did is that it gives the family unit, a place that we can all focus and a place that we can all take our grief and put it into mourning. And to do these things together as we remember this pot. And whether it’s the other thing I’m big about Angela is keeping or taking a deceased animal at home. So the family has their own private time to do what they do for rituals and and funerals and whatever. I’m a big, huge believer on that big, huge believer on that. All right, let me stop, I just threw a whole bunch of stuff at you. So unpack it, where do you want me to go,

Angela  

I keep going back to the idea that we exist in a grief illiterate society. As much as you know, people like us are trying to change that. The fact is, we do not grow up learning what grief is until it happens to us. And then so many of us just walk through it blindly without learning or unpacking what we’re feeling. Those books that you refer to with Dr. Gardner can be a powerful learning tool for the parent too.

Coleen

Yes, absolutely.

Angela

Because so like, it could be the first time they’re facing death to.

Coleen 

Yeah, you know, what’s interesting, honey, many of the classes that I go to, to further my education and further my knowledge, in most of them one of the very first things so we can all you know, connect. And most of these that I go to are human death and grief, you know, conferences or symposiums or whatever it may be. And so in this in this connecting game, you know much of is talk about, you know, the first the first death that you remember, and over half of them, three quarters of them, it’s always the Death of the Family Pet. And that could have been a gazillion years ago. I mean, I could tell you story after story of sitting on airplanes, and the dude next to me is watching me work on yet another presentation and you know, his dog died 40 years ago, and he never, nobody ever gave him permission to cry. And I’m sitting there with this big man who’s over there. Snot bubbling on me just not bubbling. You know, and it’s like I’m safe and you can do that. And God I’m so sorry. It took 40 years, you know, for you to let all this thing out. And, you know, he walked through that day like it was yesterday. I mean, it was just amazing. And so I think for people like you and I, and everybody else on here, who, who wants to be that advocate and that evangelists for, you know, being the safe place, and being the one who can make space for this, gosh, just being approachable. And say, you know, I got this thing out and showed it to you is I use this at a, at a motivational presentation I just did. And another one that I created that looks just sparkly and pink just like this, it says, Tell me more. And that for you and I as we make space and hold these people, and even with our children, you know back to that. I tell people all the time, the only thing I want you to say is tell me more about him. Tell me more about how you’re feeling and not offer up? Yeah, let me tell you what happened when it happened to me, let me say, I didn’t know to stop doing that. Let them talk, let it be their time to get it out. Because it may be 40 years later, before they actually find somebody who can make space for that. And let’s reframe that. Let’s person by person, walk into an office at work or pick that phone up, or find that person at the pet store whose snot bubble car in the eye. Oh, because today’s the day and they’re buying the final treat, hug. Hug him and say, I get it. I’m here for you. Feel free to call me. Happy to listen, honestly, I’m happy to talk to you. I’m happy to listen to you.

Angela  

Right? Right. I think based on my own experience as a child with parents. Parents want to protect their children from sad and bad things. And in a completely different vein, I am constantly in awe of the resilience that dogs show us. Our children, dogs similar in that respect, in that they are far more resilient than we give them credit.

Coleen 

I believe so it’s what I’ve seen are far more resilient. You know, and they, in as much as in my mentor, Dr. Alan wolfelt says this all the time, we have to understand that the minute a child is born, he understands she understands loss, okay? You get the loss of that nice, mourn little little womb, right? And so they, they, they they get it, what they might not get is forever, okay, he’s forever gone. Well, if you’re a five year old, you know, your world is 1600 days, let’s be let’s be honest. So forever means what? And so what we need to be cognizant of with that is, you know, they’re gonna, they’re gonna pop up next month and say, he went his buddy coming home, you know, I thought he was coming home. I had a my one of my kids, their dog died. And he took my grandson up to go to go pick up Dukes ashes. And my colleague, which is what we do we call the ashes, the cremains by their name, right? So she said to Travis, I’m gonna go back and get Duke. Well, my five year old six year old grandson said, when she came out, he was expecting Duke, you know, and so they’re literal in their interpretation of this stuff. And you and I kind of giggled before you hit record, you know, even though we’re euthanasia? You know, I kids, like why are we talking about children in another company, or in another country, the youth in Asia, you know, so it’s being really careful to make sure the words we use that they understand them.

And of course, we don’t want to use words like put to sleep or special medicine to help them okay, because the next time we go to the doctor for our special medicine for your cold, that’s gonna be a little concerning. That I that didn’t work out so well for body. So what’s going to happen to me, you know, so we’ve got to be extremely clear with the words we’re using, and then do response checks. Hey, what did that mean to you? When mommy said this? You know, what did that mean to you? Talk about that. Have those conversations. How do you want to honor buddy, I’m a big big believer, especially when there’s children involved, that we create tribute tables at home and it gives the child and I always talk to parents before I work with the family wants you to set up the attribute table and then when I’m going to tell a child is anytime you think is something special, that was buddies, put it on the table, and then we’ve got a whole table of stuff that was buddies, okay? If you want to write a letter and seal it up, because you don’t want anybody else to read it, and girl, let me tell you something.

This one A as with many I was brought to my knees family came in. And another thing I would always tell the family and this is another beautiful task that can be done. I want you to write me a letter about buddy, okay? It can either be to buddy or about buddy, but I want you to write a letter, and then you’re going to read it to me, I want you to read it. A never forget, I’m sitting on the bench. I got a little, I don’t know, three or four year old. And she has a little folded up piece of paper, right? So I said, Let’s, I want you to read your letter to me. And so she sits down next to me and all of her little cuteness. And she unfolds her paper, and she’s going to read to me, and she starts off, dear buddy, well, girl, I look over that paper. And there’s not one word written on that paper, not one more. So she starts reading and it just starts coming out. And I just merely sat there and I let her read her letter to me. And it, it was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. The other thing, here’s another one. As that day approaches, you know, and even to sit down with children and get them actively involved in creating a bucket list that we’re going to do here at the end, okay, let’s get actively involved together as a family as to what we’re going to do for these final days. Okay. And, and as we create that. And as we get to that day. The other thing that I encourage parents to do is to take all those things, if you’re going into the vet clinic, take all of that stuff with you take his special blanket, take his special toys, and make that entire room be the things that are for him. And I’ll never forget people coming into my pet funeral home with garbage bags full of toys, and blankets and beds and, and they just created this shrine that was all about the animal. And that’s what it’s about, because you want to reframe that final into this really beautiful, you know, now what, what makes me feel good honey, is when these people look back on that final day. And instead of seeing a deceased animal lying on a table, they see a deceased animal amongst all the things that represented their family, and their time together. You know what I’m saying? And that’s what I want. That’s what I want.

Angela  

We need to remember too, that every individual mourns and grieves differently. Right? So when you’re, when a parent is dealing with this with multiple children, what’s a good way for them to address it?

Coleen 

You know, I and I always address this with the family as a as a whole. You know, I start off with that. And if you’re a, you know, if you’re a companion walking with somebody who is in a situation, it is that reminder that says everybody is going to do this differently. Because everybody around the circle here had a different relationship with the animal. And you may have had a tighter one and in Bobby might have not had one at all. And so we need to respect Bobby is probably good. And Bobby, I want you to respect that maybe Betsy is not good. Okay. And let’s let us know, we’re all going to handle it different. Just like any other death we have in our world, all of us have our own unique relationships with that person in that animal. And that’s going to drive what our grief journey looks like.

Angela  

And considering, again, that everyone grieves differently, what if a child is resistant to talking about the death or the animal? or what have you? How does a parent approach that situation?

Coleen 

If they’re resistant, then I’m gonna guess they were maybe modeled to be resistant. Okay, so I would probably try to get to the middle of that. And just say, talk to me about how we want to explore this together. And it might be that I’ve got to, I’ve got to share a little bit deeper about where I’m at, you know, so I can model that it’s okay to not be okay. In and to be sad. That’s okay. But I would continue to, to have the conversation. Now, here’s what may happen to Angela. It may be they’re resistant to talk about it because they were opposed to the euthanasia. And so it’s to get to the heart of that and to say, let’s talk about that’s why a lot of my veterinarians and end of life care when they present a quality of life scale. Everybody in the home gets to vote on how that day went, okay. So if there’s a mom and a dad and two kids, everybody gets their own color of a marker. And you either get a mark a happy face or a sad face today on what kind of day you believe buddy had today. And so we can visually see how everybody is seeing this in it. And as we make our way to, you know, it’s time that that maybe we can help him a little bit. So as much as we can be open along the way, as much as you can use a, an end of life specialist to help talk to children about quality of life and pain and pain scales, and things like that. Again, now we’re now we’re coming back to the beginning of our conversation, again, they want answers, they want to understand it better.

Angela  

How important is it for them to participate in the events leading up to the euthanasia? I thinking maybe a celebration of life while the dog is still alive, the animal is still alive, I default to dogs, you know why? Yeah, build having the child or children build the bucket list, participate, maybe participate in the actual euthanasia, and a memorial service afterwards. How important is that to their grieving process,

Coleen 

it’s, it’s important for all of us to do that stuff, it’s important for all of us to, to have the opportunity and be given the permission to do that the only one that I’ll stand down a little bit on Angela, is for a parent to understand the maturity of their child, and in how they can or cannot process the actual euthanasia event. Okay. But outside of that, leading up to carving this one away, and then the after time, children should 100% be involved with that. 100% be involved with that.

Angela  

Okay, and

I have no doubt that parenting is not easy. That’s one of the reasons I chose not to do it seemed too hard. And you do cute. And yet, you know, I’m pretty proud of myself for getting one for child 212 and a half and now the other 10. So, I guess I could have done it, but who knows? It is talking them through or supporting them through this event in their lives, for lack of a better word, just another step in preparing them to be good human beings as adults.

Coleen 

Yeah, I don’t see how it can’t be, you know, even from an empathetic from an empathetic nature to their friends who eventually are going to be going through this and, you know, to be able to be that one at gosh, I had a young lady who worked with me at my at my pet funeral home and nd and, and she didn’t have daycare. So she brought Maddie to work every day. And so starting at three and four years old Maddie came to work every day and and she was just very much a part of what was going on. And you know, sometimes I would be the one to go pick her up at school and I just got an assistant a family. So I had a I had an animal in the back of my truck and she she’d get in my truck. And the first thing she does miss going Do you have anything? Anybody with you today? And I said, Yep, we got fluffy in the back. So what a pretty kitty. And so she she’s always been very open to death. And she because that’s it. That’s how we were with her, you know? And she in what I would, and I would hear this from her mom. Jessica is you know, then Maddie kind of became the go to for her friends. And here’s what I love about kids. Jessica walked in one night, Maddie was holding court with a friend and they were all over for a little party and, and Maddie was holding court with one of the little boys who had lost his his animal. I don’t remember what it was. And they’re all crying. And of course Maddie gave them permission to cry. And and Jessica opened the door and she said, Maddie, you’ve got all these children are sitting around crying right in and she said Maddie What on earth was going on in here? And she said, Well, you know, Bobby, Bobby’s doggy kitty, whatever died. And so we’re all talking, talking about the animal and listen to this, man. He said, I just told Bobby if he would listen hard enough to his heart, he could hear all the stories and all the memories there. That’s where they’re at. Right to your knees to your freaking knees takes you and it’s like just let them do what comes organically to them. Let them do that. Let them do it.

Angela  

It’s almost like she knew the continuing bonds theory without even having heard of it.

Coleen 

Totally. Absolutely. And you know what I what I was so proud about back to your question. She just was in this environment that we were so open about it, and we cried, and the children came in and she was there. And she had to go pet, every animal that came through our facility, she had to pet them, and she had to talk to them. And we were just open about it. And I know to this day as a college student graduate now, I know that it shaped who she is, as a person, and to be an empathetic person, to those that are around her, you know, and I’m, and I’m going to share another story with you because it’s really even bigger than pet loss and children. We had some I had a family that came in and they were having a visitation for their little black kitty, beautiful kitty, Cesar. And should the cat was like 16 or 17, no 17 or 18, because the first child was 16. And then there was like a, maybe a 12 year old and an eight year old. And so the parents, God bless them allowed, you know, said yes, we’re going to bring the kids in and I can all say their goodbyes to Caesar, you know, because he’s, he was the firstborn, right? I mean, none of those kids didn’t know life without the cat because he was older than all of them. And so they were getting ready to leave. And I had them all around me. And you know, they were shedding some tears and, and a dad was at the door, ready to go. And the kids were with me and mom was standing there. And I said, Oh my gosh, I said, I am so sorry. I didn’t tell you guys to bring Caesars favorite treats. So he can take those on his next journey with them. And the dad just throw it over his shoulder. And he goes that cat hated treats. He liked barbecue potato chips. And so the kids giggled, and they’re standing there and I looked at all the kids and I said, Well, I said, I don’t have barbecue, but I got cheddar and sour cream. I go, What do you think? And you’re like, yeah, so it was an unopened big bag. So I gave him the bag of chips. Those kids laughed, crunched up that whole bag of chips and put it on this black kitty. So black kitty is covered and all these orange potato chips, right? And they laughed. And do you remember how it used to knock the bag out of our hands? And do you remember how we used to do this with the chips and, and all that kind of stuff. And Angela, you know what I thought as I was as I was listening to these children walked down memory lane about potato chips with this kitty. I thought, God, I only hope when it’s a human being that they’re allowed to spray the can of beer all over grandpa put his remote with them or, you know, sprinkle cookies all over grandma, because she baked cut whatever it was. I thought man, I just hope for the next one, that they’re given permission to do exactly what they’re doing right now. And to do that thing again. Because I can tell you when those kids think about Caesar’s death, what they think about is Caesar with potato chips on him. I guarantee you, I guarantee you.

Angela  

We can talk and talk and talk about a celebration of life. But it is so embedded in our culture to see death as horrible and sad and painful. And of course it absolutely is. But if we celebrate the life that existed before the death, it can you …

Coleen 

You know what, can I change a word for us? Yeah, because we think sometimes when we say celebrate, we believe we believe and I’m going to I’m going to tell you something girl in my funeral plans in my funeral plans. Okay, I already know what they look like, in my funeral plans. It said if you’re not curling, then you’re going to be asked to leave. Okay, because listen to me, honey, I want people to sneak nah, girl, you’re going to be there. You’ll be there. Yeah, I want people to miss me. And I want them to obtain a permission to cry. Now here’s here’s it. It’s just a slight change in the wording. Let’s honor let’s honor the death first cake because it’s going on right now. And when we’re ready, then let’s celebrate the life that was lit. But I don’t want to remove. I don’t want to remove this part that’s probably happening right now. And I want you to be sad and I want you to cry. And I want you to you know, the honor the light or honor the death by giving him some potato chips. Okay. And when we’re ready, we’re gonna go buy a Tin Tin bags of potato chips and take them to the shelter. I don’t know. But that that’s I want us to just kind of bump the celebrate a little bit and give us permission to do this first, you know? Yeah,

Angela  

I gotcha. I love it. The underlying theme of everything you’ve talked about is being honest with your children being open to the discussion. What is one last piece of advice you can have for parents to talk about death with their children?

Coleen 

What is One last, you know, I think the one last might be and I’ve, I’ve witnessed this, that sometimes parents are struggling enough to understand their own emotions, that to be able to have the capacity to help somebody else through the process just might not be realistic. Okay, let’s just take Caesar and let’s just say that that was mom’s firstborn. The kitty was her life that kitty, she had the tightest relationship with that kitty. That was her. That was her relationship, okay. She may not have the capacity to help the kids. And so a couple of things. Number one, to be honest with them to say, Listen, I am struggling right now so hard because you guys know how I felt about fluffy. And in I’m struggling big time right now. Maybe we do a book. Maybe we plan this funeral together, continue to do the things that I might not I might need, but I need to pull them in with me. And let’s do this together. And then as the fog begins to clear, a little bit, Angela, then as a family, then we can sit down and now I have capacity of BT to be a bit more help. So that’s thing number one. Thing number two, might be that you need to turn to another pet loss professional within your area that says can I get a little help with the kids? I had a couple families that that was a situation Mom took the depth so so hard, and I said you know what? Let me take the kids. I got the kids. Okay. You go do what you need to do. I’m going to I’m going to take these I got these. Brilliant, but I think it’s being worthy and weary enough. Not weary, aware enough to know what you need as the adult. Yeah, you know? Yeah.

Angela  

Brilliant. Thank you so much. You’re breaking honey.

Coleen 

I just love being with you. We’re gonna do this thing. We’re gonna just keep sharing this out there, right? I love

Angela  

it. Yes, absolutely. Okay, you have a hard stop in seven minutes. So I’m gonna zap you. I knew that we could not get through two topics in one hour. So I’m gonna. I’m gonna zap you the link

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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