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time for dear Tom to be at peace - what to tell the DCs?

(41 Posts)
mckenzie Thu 05-Nov-09 09:22:21

I took dear old Tom to the vet again this week (some of you might remember the sag from before) and she has suggested that it might now be the right time but has left it with us obviously to make the final decision and decide when the time is right. I, foolishly it now seems, mentioned to the DCs what the vet had said and explained about Tom perhaps 'being put to sleep'. 4 year old DD was cool, thought it was a good idea as 'he cant even get on to the cushion anymore can he mum?' and that was that. But DS, age 8, was inconsolable. He cried for the next 4 hours and trying to get him to sleep was awful. A friend has since told me that it might be because of the 'put to sleep to die' scenario that i had described earlier meaning that he was scared to go to sleep in case he died sad.

Anyway, sorry I'm waffling rather. The thing is, I think now I am being cruel to Tom by keeping him here for my sake when actually, he has had a great life for over 15 years and he now has a rubbish quality of life. But what to tell the children? Shall I take Tom to the vet while they are sat school and tell a little fib about how I came home from shopping and found that Tom had died while I was gone? Or should I try and explain about what the vet can do in a better way and tell them the truth. And should we talk about it over the weekend and try and get DS calmer about it or do i just get it sorted asap?

sad sad sad sad sad

Bonsoir Thu 05-Nov-09 09:23:47

Tell the truth about pet euthanasia. It really is the kindest decision you can make, and you need to be clear about that to your DCs.

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 09:32:33

I don't think your ds will be scared to go to sleep in case he dies - especially if you've explained about the 'special injection' the vets give. I think it's more likely to be sheer grief in your ds's case sad It's so very hard knowing what to do for the best with small dc and death, but I think you've done the right thing.

As to what you tell them now, I think the actual method of Tom dying isn't going to be what upsets them, it's just the fact that their beloved pet won't be there. There's really no way round it, and hard as it is for us to see our dc upset, it is inescapable sometimes.

Very best of luck & all my sympathy sad

mckenzie Thu 05-Nov-09 10:34:00

thanks guys. how else can i explain euthanasia other than 'being put to sleep'?? Sorry, I'm probably being thick but ......

purpleduck Thu 05-Nov-09 10:58:32

Oh dear god, LIE!!!!!
YOU are having a hard time making the decision, so of course your poor ds is having a hard time with this too. He is only 8, and may not be sophisticated enough to understand the finer points of mercy.

Why saddle him with guilt etc - he is a child, why should he have to deal with the extra sadness that the dogs death was not natural?

I think letting him believe that the dog died naturally is a kind thing to do for your son.

Sorry about your dog sad

piratecat Thu 05-Nov-09 11:04:33

i agree with purple duck.

I have just gone thru a similar situation, and altho I had no choice over actually having our cat put down, ie there was no time to wait, she was upset about the being killed bit. I had to tell her they call it putting to sleep, but it's not sleep, they are dead. dd is 7, and was really upset over the cat dying, which your dc's will be, but had i had the choice in your situation, I would say Tom died at home with you when they were at school.

That little bit of info will be comforting, in a very upsetting time. my dd was very upset our cat (only one yr old) had to be put down.

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 11:07:22

Of course - tell them whatever you are happiest telling them.

Given that you've already mentioned putting Tom to sleep to your dc, and if you decide to tell them that is how he actually died, then you can say the vet gave him a special injection that didn't hurt, Tom went to sleep, Tom didn't hurt any longer, and Tom just won't wake up.

Or say he died at home while they were at school.

Whatever you tell them, I have found (through sad experience) that what really matters to dc is some kind of closure - e.g. burying the pet or planting a tree. When I have taken a pet to the vet and come back without it then my dc have been far more upset than if they can have them buried at home, or make some memorial.

Best of luck x

purpleduck Thu 05-Nov-09 11:07:40

We have 2 dogs - my dd is 7. She understands that you should not hit/hurt etc, but she does not understand ongoing suffering.
I think it would mess her head to know that we made one of the dogs die.

Very sad for all of you

doggiesayswoof Thu 05-Nov-09 11:11:47

I don't think an 8 yo needs to be told the truth about pet euthanasia tbh.

OP I agree with purpleduck too - I would lie and say he died while they were at school. Apart from anything else this might make it a bit easier on you as well because it's no picnic.

Sorry about Tom sad

throckenholt Thu 05-Nov-09 11:16:57

tell him the truth. Tom was old and in pain and it is kinder to give him a drug that will finish him off. It is very quick, and feels to him just like falling asleep (which is why the phrase put to sleep is used).

It is a good way for kids to come to term with death in a safe way.

We had to have our 12 year old dog put down earlier this year - kids were 6 and 7 at the time and understood it all, and helped bury her too.

mckenzie Thu 05-Nov-09 16:44:30

thanks very much all. Funnily enough I found an article today about this and it said only ask 2 people for their opinion as otherwise you'll get too many conflicting views and you wont know what to do smile.

MitchyInge Thu 05-Nov-09 16:52:10

sorry about Tom

we always talk about 'putting down' rather than 'putting to sleep'

hope you find a way to break the news - agree about closure, perhaps you could have separate cremation and do something with his ashes or have some sort of ceremony at home?

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 17:15:55

If it helps, mckenzie (and it probably doesn't) I'm actually on the fence as to what you should tell them.

Only you know your dc and what you feel is best to tell them. Either story would be fine IMO.

Very best of luck.

Fabster Thu 05-Nov-09 17:23:10

sad Sorry for you all.

I think the children will be more upset and scared if you say Tom went to sleep and never woke up.

I think the put to sleep phrase should be banned as it does worry the children (not blaming you btw).

Our children have had to cope with some hamsters and a snail dying (didn't tell them about the fish) and it was horrible seeing their little faces crumble so I feel your pain. I dread the day the cat and guinea pigs die.

mckenzie Thu 05-Nov-09 18:55:01

we've had a conversation about it this evening and I used the word euthanasia instead of putting to sleep etc and it went much better. I'm not going to mention it again tonight but will talk about it again in the morning and then take Tom tomorrow.
Or do I wait until DH is back on monday so that the DCs don't see me as the bad guy of the piece ("mummy is horrid cos she made Tom die" sort of thing)?
But is that fair on Tom to make him wait another few days? oh sad!

shallishanti Thu 05-Nov-09 19:00:16

Dog's suffering should take priority I think. Your dcs will be sad no matter when he dies, sooner is better than later from his pov. You are not being horrid, you are ending his suffering. Can't vet advise you? I seem to remember friends were allowed to stay with their dog while he died (they may even have brought him home?)
Not a good idea to lie to children about something important like this I think.

kormaAAAARRRRGGHHchameleon Thu 05-Nov-09 19:09:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mutt Thu 05-Nov-09 19:10:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

throckenholt Thu 05-Nov-09 20:04:57

kids are much more resilient than you think. They may cry on the day - but they will probably get over it more quickly than you. I certainly cried more and for longer than any of my kids.

They will talk about it and ask very straightforward questions (which may upset you but probably won't upset them).

They are very matter of fact about it all.

Fabster Thu 05-Nov-09 20:06:53

I am thinking if there is no hope for Tom sad, tomorrow would be for the best and then you have the weekend together rather than it happen Monday and then have to go back to school Tuesday and not have some quiet time at home, or go on a day out if that would help more.

Thinkstoomuch Thu 05-Nov-09 20:17:34

I just realised that my dad lied to me about my family dog dying when I was little.

I'm nearly 40 FGS and it's taken this thread to make me realise that it was probably a huge fib he told me about the poor chap dying. He said he went peacefully, lying on the lawn on a sunny day (he'd been ill for a long time and was very old). I was on holiday with my mum at the time. I think now it's far more likely he had a final trip to the vet.

Don't know what that tells you - but that image in my mind was so strong for years of my beloved dog lying in the sun, it was definitely a comfort.

mckenzie Thu 05-Nov-09 21:01:30

thanks everybody (Tom's a cat by the way, not a dog smile). Tomorrow it is then I think. Off to go and have my last big cuddle. Goodnight.

Fabster Thu 05-Nov-09 21:02:54

OH, that is so sad.

My cat is currently hiding under our bed terrified of the fireworks.

Fabster Fri 06-Nov-09 07:24:18

How is Tom this morning mckenzie and how are you feeling?

BellaBonJovi Fri 06-Nov-09 09:14:33

Best of luck, mckenzie sad

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