When Death Brings Life…
I have a dead hamster in my freezer.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, she was the cutest little thing ever.
But now, she’s just a curled up frozen rodent in a used plastic lunch meat container, a shadow of her former self.
She’s preceded in death by another hamster, a frog, three salamanders, a golden retriever, a hedgehog (don’t ask), and a few hermit crabs.
Oh yeah, and fish. Lots of fish.
We experience a lot of life at our house, sometimes through the loving of God’s little creatures. We currently enjoy space with just two rabbits and a golden retriever puppy.
My daughter names all the birds that nest in my window boxes or wisteria each spring, and we have semi-elaborate funerals for every pet that dies.
Dad (although he’s really not too interested in the various little creatures) nearly always does a remarkable eulogy, and it’s always an experience that deeply connects my heart to his, helping me see that inside that big 6’3″ hunk of a man is a tender heart.
Sometimes there’s music.
Or a poem.
Or a handmade gravestone.
Over the 15 years that we’ve been parenting and through 20 years of marriage, we’ve seen little animals come and go and we treasured them all (okay, maybe some of us treasured a bit more than others…). But regardless of our level of emotional attachment, we have a big hurrah funeral because we believe they really ARE in a better place – in heaven with God.
I’m not trying to start some debate about whether or not all dogs go to heaven, but when I read Proverbs 25 today, specifically verse 11, which reads:
“11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken in right circumstances,”
it made me think of how we’ve been holding off on the hamster funeral until Dad is back from his business trip.
You might think, “Seriously?? Are you nuts? My relationship with my spouse (or kids) is in the pits and you’re talking to me about burying rodents??!”
Because families that play, and cry, and bury little friends together grow tighter bonds.
So we have funerals.
And then we get on with things.
Today, I’m actually daring you to let your kids buy a goldfish. Or a hamster. Or a cat or something. Dogs are high commitment, just so you know.
Make them clean the cages, litter box, or tank – and tie their privileges to getting it done.
And when (not IF, but when) the little creature dies, its little life has had the opportunity to teach responsibility, and a great privilege to facilitate a close moment with the entire family.
For what it’s worth, I am the funeral director. I organize only the timing of the event, the children plan the details, and I make sure everyone shows up. My primary responsibility is to hand my husband a Bible and respectfully alert him that the eulogy is eagerly anticipated at about such-and-so time. But that’s what we wives and moms do, isn’t it? Facilitate relationship with all of our family members? J
In sickness, in health, and in death.
But whatever you do, don’t get a chinchilla.
Those critters live for 35 years.
The kids will go off to college and get married, and you’ll be stuck with it.
You’ll have grandkids before that one keels over. J
Double dog dare you to actually read Proverbs 25 – there’s info about wives and angry men in there… all good.
Triple dog dare you to subscribe, or share… J
Glad to be on the journey with you!
Proverbs 12:10″A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” Thank you for the life/death lesson. We had a smart loveable rescue dog runaway after 5 years. We had loved our Chico and domesticated him through lots of patience. But Spring came along and the bunnies and birds proved to be too irresistible for him and he took off into the desert. We looked, drove through the neighborhoods, put in missing reports, toured dog rescue centers..the works. I did the best to model what the Shepherd does for us. Seeking the lost!
I told the boys you have enjoyed the best part of having a dog..even with all the stuff he challenged us with ..u were spared the saddest part of animal ownership -burying them. (I had a cat carried off by a pack of dogs once-they snapped her neck it was horrible- but we were thankful it wasn’t my little sister instead who was with the cat at the time of the attack). We all cried, got mad, pined away together over our loss of Chico but we knew how smart he is…he would find a family, food, H2o. We prayed for him to be blessed with goodness. All good life lessons!
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