The Passing of a Family Friend

I wanted to reach through the phone line and embrace my daughter. Instead, I texted her back and tried to concentrate on reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my freshman class.

I kept losing my place and glancing at my phone. Not professional behavior, I know. But when your daughter texts you that her beloved German Shepherd has bladder cancer and the vet sees no hope, you do what needs to be done.Embrace your pets http://wp.me/p7W1vk-cg

We had prayed for my daughter and Bella before class started, so when I stopped my reading and said, “I apologize my being distracted. Bella’s not going to make it,” my students understood. Many of them knew Bella because she lived with us for a year or two whilst Laura finished college.

They had thrown sticks for Bella, gone on hikes with her, and tried to embrace her. Bella had some innate ratio for accepting human touch. I think it was about 27 stick throws to one pat on the head. Fifty-two stick throws would earn you a casual arm draped over her neck whilst she triple-panted in joy.

Fortunately, Sarah had gone to visit Laura this week—and she will embrace Laura by proxy for the next few days until she leaves. Laura, Louis, Abel, and Sarah spent most of the day at the vet’s with Bella.

Laura watched Bella’s birth and Bella proved a loyal companion and running partner through Laura’s last two years of high school. Louis has known Bella just as long—they considered her their first ‘child.’

Not Just a Dog

Someone made the mistake today of asking why they took time off work to be with Bella. “After all, it’s just a dog,” said the person who must never have enjoyed the embrace of a pet.

Ok, I know. Dogs and cats don’t have arms and can’t embrace like we do. But they provide a non-judgmental, always faithful, often grinning (or purring), warm object that we can talk to without recrimination and embrace at will.

Pets are people, and I’m sticking to my theory. And despite what some lofty theologians may claim, I think our pets will end up in heaven. After all, God is a Father who delights in his children. And isn’t that why we give our kids pets in the first place?

When someone grieves, offer an embrace, not an empty platitude. #fmfparty Click To Tweet

So when a friend tells you that their pet has passed on, the proper response should be an embrace. A word of kindness and empathy goes a long way towards helping people through their grief.


  1. Anita, I’m truly sorry to read about the passing of Bella. I can only imagine the hole that leaves in your heart and your days. I’ll pray for you and Pedro and your family this weekend.

    Thank you for the reminder that we need to be sensitive to others’ grieving. Rather than dismiss or denigrate the grief over the loss of a beloved pet, we need to share sympathy and kindness.

  2. So sorry about Bella! I am all teary now thinking about my own “dogs” and losing one two years ago. She picked out her urn and I paid the extra to have her separately cremated. Her ashes sit in our china cabinet in the dining room. My mom couldn’t believe I was spending that money, but how could I not? She was and IS family. I still talk to her ashes, her urn has her first collar wrapped around it. Maybe I am crazy but there are still plenty of nights where I wake just enough to tell her to move only to realize I am tangled in blankets. My one child says that Dog spells God backwards because they teach us to love like God wants us to!
    Marisa recently posted…Jesus KnowsMy Profile

  3. Losing a pet is so hard. They become members of the family tool I’m so sorry for the loss of Bella. God will comfort you all in your grief. I’m in the 6 spot this week.

  4. I’m so sorry, Anita. And I am certain you will see Bella again; I’ve died and been to Heaven and come back, and remember well my tail-wagging welcoming committee.

    And besides, how could God give us the capacity for that kind of received and returned love, without it having a counterpart and fulfillment in His Presence?

    #1 at FMF this week.

    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 288 – Embracing God’s Will {FMF}My Profile

  5. Sorry to hear about the death of Bella. Although we don’t have pets ourselves, I know exactly what you mean here: my brother and his wife just lost their little miniature schnauzer, Abby (one of two mini-schnauzers they have) to “old age” at 12. I am trying to figure out the best ways to support them as they grieve. You’re right: an embrace and words of kindness are never the wrong thing.

    Jeannie (#27 in linkup this week)

  6. Oh yes! Those who have never experienced the loss of a loved one, or beloved pet do not understand. Funny, my 22 year old cat passed away last Friday … I’ve lost so very much in 2 years. I appreciate the embrace in place of the platitudes, but forgive those who only have platitudes because they do not know. They don not understand.
    I’m sorry for your family’s loss and will hold you in my prayers. God bless you all.
    Andrea, FMF neighbor #57

  7. I love this so much. What a beautiful tribute to my baby girl. ❤ I have had so many embraces from my dear students today…and from others in the community who understand this pain.

    1. Our family understands completely and is praying for all of you. Pets are family…usually our first children for most of us. I got to hug you both today but wish I could do something to take the pain away. It is so hard. We experienced the loss of oldest fur baby 3 years ago…I was a total mess…for days I’d cry anytime I thought of her or someone mentioned her name. I still think of her all the time and the wonderful memories. You will forever cherish the times with her. Love you and your precious family!

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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