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.