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by Susan Kramer
The twins were feeling so sad. They had come downstairs in the morning and their pet dog, Spud, lay on his side on the carpet in a corner of the living room in what looked like a deep sleep. Soon he stopped breathing and his furry body looked very relaxed, and after a while it became stiff. Anneke and Hans couldn't believe what had happened. Spud had been playing with them the day before, and now their dear pet and friend would no longer be fetching sticks.
Anneke and Hans sat on the carpet next to Spud petting his fur over and over again. They began crying, and cried even harder as they gradually realized he had gone to doggy heaven.
Ma and Pa came downstairs and looked at the trio in the corner, and walking over saw what had happened. The twins ran into their parents arms and cried some more while being held.
Over the years Ma and Pa had lost pets, and family, and friends, and they knew that this heavy crying and grieving had to be experienced before they could accept that their loved one had gone on to a spiritual home. They also knew that being held while crying helped lessen the pain from losing a loved one – pet or person.
Pa suggested that they wrap Spud in a blanket and bury him beside the back fence. Hans found a shovel in the garden shed and helped Pa dig a hole. Anneke and Ma used a trowel to remove a small azalea bush. Then the family laid Spud in the grave, filled in and tamped down the earth, and replanted the bush in the freshly dug ground.
They joined hands around the grave and Pa said thanks to the Lord for making Spud a part of their family.
Ma looked on and said a prayer:
"Blessed Mother and Father –
May I remember dear Spud is in your care.
That in your boundless spiritual home
All will find that they are known.
And cherished in your radiant light
That never dims, is always bright."
Then the twins took turns speaking, wishing Spud a good life in heaven and telling him they'd see him again someday.
Quietly the family trudged inside, and while Pa and the twins sat around the table Ma made them all hot cocoa and raisin toast from a loaf in the freezer. (In parts of Holland there is a tradition to eat raisin bread and butter with a hot drink after a funeral service.)
After spending some time 'round the family table, talking about Spud and what they would miss about him, Anneke and Hans climbed the stairs to their bedrooms and got out their art supplies. Hans drew a picture of Spud catching a ball in mid-air and tacked it up on his corkboard. And Anneke got out her sketch book and drew a picture of Spud sitting in the downstairs front picture window watching people and other dogs carrying their sticks walk by. She pinned her drawing to the inside of her bedroom curtain so she could stretch out in bed and look at and think about Spud whenever she wished.
In a few weeks a sharing day came up at school. Both Anneke and Hans wanted to tell their classmates about Spud, that he lived and played in doggy heaven now, and that they knew that one day they'd be together again.
After a period of time the family adopted another dog whom they came to love, while still keeping the memory of Spud alive in their hearts.
Key words: processing grief; losing a pet; loving again.
children in this story live in my mind and heart.
The author, Susan Helene Kramer, has been teaching people of all ages and abilities meditation, yoga, and dance for more than 30 years.
and Hans went to school
Anneke and Hans Experience Grief and photographs
copyright © 2017 Susan Helene Kramer
Home Page http://www.susankramer.com
Dutch translation of other stories in the series