We love our pets and we lose our pets.
Since I’ve started this project, I’ve had several people request paintings of pets that have passed away. It’s very rare to be outlived by a pet. Many times throughout our lives we have several pets, and all of them live with us for several years, and then depart from our lives. Many times the loss of a pet is our first experience with grief. It’s also a point when many parents have to decide whether to tell a child that a pet has died or lie and spare them the pain.
I remember when my pet parakeet, Heathcliff, died when I was 5 or 6 and my mom said that she had to give him away because I didn’t take care of him. Heathcliff was a blue and yellow bird that I loved dearly for about a week until we had to clean his cage and he bit my finger. Then I pretty much hated his guts. My mom still made up a story so that I wouldn’t have to deal with his death, and instead deal with the fact that after he bit me I had absolutely nothing to do with him anymore and she was left to take care of a bird I’m sure she only got because I begged her for him.
I have lied to my own children. We once adopted a sick kitten that had to be euthanized. I thought that I would be totally honest with them, but when I got home late at night after having to have her put to sleep, all I could do was tell them that she went to “live with the vet”.
I also remember the first time I knew a pet had died. Our cocker spaniel, Mitzy, was hit by a car, and it was the first time I really grieved over the death of someone.
Pets are great companions, but they are also a great lesson in loving an losing someone. I hope that the people who receive paintings of pets that they loved and lost will look at them and be reminded of how important that pet was and feel lucky to have been able to be a part of the entire life from beginning to end.
Thank you to my cousin Catherine for the awesome title of this piece!