A Wondrous, Wonderful World

My nephew came out to visit a while back, and one morning he was so proud of himself because he got a “kill.” We had squirrels and bunnies taking over the yard. To us they were vermin. When my daughter (the middle child), who was still little at the time, found out, she began crying (“Not the bunnies!”). We were all standing there, confused. We were saying, “It’s just a bunny,” or, “It may be a bunny, but it’s also vermin.” We finally apologized and promised not to do it again. So, the word around my son and nephew was to pop them off when she wasn’t looking, and to not tell her about it if they were successful.
To us it was vermin. To her, in her younger self, that rabbit was a part of God’s wondrous, wonderful creation. It was alive, it was beautiful, it was delightful.
Fast forward to the loss of the neighbor’s dog. My middle child is older and my youngest is wailing,”Josie’s dead,” at the top of her lungs and the rest of us are at a loss for words. My middle child tries to comfort her and she did what any rational, caring adult would do and say. By watching what any rational, caring adult would do, I realized the ineffectiveness of this approach. We cannot comfort someone else by invalidating or minimizing what the other person is feeling. “I know you’re feeling sad. We’re all sad, and we will all miss her.”
Children see the world differently, and what’s more, they feel everything more. They emote more. What to us was “vermin,” was beautiful, alive, and wonderful to my daughter. What was a “dog” to us, was more than just a “dog,” to my youngest. It was a beautiful living wonderful creature, part of God’s wondrous creation. They both felt that loss of beauty when death touched those creatures, whether through natural causes or otherwise. Being alive means feeling the pain that comes with loss, each and every time it crosses our paths.