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Our beloved Copper Dog passed, how to explain cremation to 3 year old.

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Our beloved Copper Dog (15) passed on last Tuesday.  Had a stroke and lost his ability to use his hind legs.  We had a dog healer whom is a good friend confirm our fears of him not walking again.  We took him to his vet with the same confirmation.  We had our 3 year old son with us at the vet due to no one available to care for him.  When Copper Dog died, my son and I were in the waiting room.  I was explaining through out the whole day that Copper Dog was not well (which he could see) and while at the vet that we would not be bringing him home with us.  When we left, my son cried badly asking why we could not. 


Now that he has understood that Copper Dog is a spirit now, we are to pick up his remains on Tuesday.  I am not sure how to explain this to our son.  My thought was to have my husband drop us for a play somewhere while he picks up his remains and then have a ceremony at home. 


Anyone gone through this?  Is my idea valid?  Looking for reassurance and support. 


Thank you.

post #2 of 3

Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss.................


Have you explained the concept of cremation to your little one?  Kids are pretty cool about so many things, but cremaiton might be a bit much.


Ds was 4 when my darling mil died.  She was cremated.  Not saying you're going through the same thing, but cremation is cremation and a loved one is a loved one.  Anyway, I explained that his Nana had died (he knew she had been sick).  I said we wouldn't see her again, but that she would always be close in our hearts and that everytime we thought of her, she was with us because of it.  We're not religious and I wasn't going to go into the whole heaven/angel thing.


Anyway, I explained she was going to be cremated, which meant that her body would be heated to a point it would be turned to dust.  I think it was better than saying "burned" or put into an oven (too much Hansel & Gretel-like!!).  I said that she wouldn't be a big person anymore, just a small bit of dust, even smaller than him!  He found the idea interesting and was never upset.


Fast forward to this summer and my own Mom dying.  Ds was now 13.  He chose the 2 urns that her ashes were divided between.  One (to be buried in my Dad's grave) was a lovely cobalt blue.  The other is an Egyptian canopic jar (my Mom was passionate about ANYTHING to do with Egypt).  That urn now sits on our living room bookcase.  He feels comfort in having it near, and so do we!  Some of her ashes we also put into a couple of necklaces, designed for such use (we got them from the funeral home).


You might want to buy a wooden (or, some other material) box and have your little one help decorate it, to hold the ashes.  Pick a specail place for the ashes to be buried or, if you are going to spread them.  I think children prefer knowing that something they love so much is in a place where they can put flowers or a stone memorial of some type.


I do think you need to explain the fact the dog will not be a dog anymore, before you pick it up.  Would your child like to go to the crematory and help carry the ashes home.  Being a part of things really helps them, as opposed to being excluded because the adutls think it would be too traumatic!  Kids are amazing and are owed honesty.


I hope all goes well with your family.  Again, I'm sorry for your loss...................... 

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the ideas.  I too am sorry for your losses. 


We haven't hid or sugar coated anything to him.  He is too smart for that.  He does understand that Copper Dog isn't coming home at least in the physical form, perhaps when we explain cremation, it will hopefully connect the dots sort-of speak for him.  Thank you for your suggestion on how to do that.  I just didn't want to talk about the burning process which you have given a good thought on how to do so.  It is interesting how we have lost a bit of our creativity through this process.  Nice to have your prospective. 


My husband's auntie made a beautiful thrown clay urn for Copper Dog that his mother is etching Copper Dog's name on the bottom.  I really appreciate the idea of our son making his own.  Off to the craft store today.


Many, many thanks. 

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