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The twins were feeling so sad. They had come downstairs in the morning and their pet dog, Spud, lay curled up on the carpet in a corner of the living room in what looked like 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 yesterday, and now their dear pet and friend would no longer be fetching sticks.
Anneke and Hans sat on the carpet next to Spud and petted 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. They walked over and 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. 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 with the garden tools and helped Pa with the digging.
Anneke and Ma used a trowel to dig up a small azalea bush. Then the family laid Spud in the grave.
They filled in and tamped down the earth, and replanted the bush in the freshly dug earth.
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 silently said a prayer for Spud's spirit. The twins took turns speaking, wishing Spud a good life in heaven. They told him they'd see him again someday.
Quietly the family trudged inside. Pa and the twins sat around the table and 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.)
The family spent some time 'round the family table, talking about Spud and what they would miss about him.
Anneke and Hans then 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.
Anneke got out her sketch book. She drew a picture of Spud sitting in front of the downstairs front picture window watching people and dogs walk by.
She pinned her drawing to the inside of her bedroom curtain. Then she could stretch out in bed and look and think about him whenever she wished.
In a few weeks a sharing day came up at school. Both Anneke and Hans wanted to tell the other students 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. They also kept the memory of Spud alive in their hearts.
Key points: grief; grieving process; letting go; going on
Includes story on this page: Anneke and Hans Feeling Grief
and Hans went to school
The author, Susan Helene Kramer, has been teaching people of all ages and abilities meditation, yoga, and dance for more than 30 years.
Dutch translation of meditation stories in the series