I saw this book somewhere in the Twitterverse and preordered it a million years because my dog is old (16) and blind and has tumors and Cushing’s disease. I know he is not long for this world, and I also know that my kids will be devastated when he does finally die. He is still our Something Wonderful, even if he is currently more the lying in a dog bed kind of wonderful than the running around and chewing on sticks kind.
When previous animals died I read my kids The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Voirst because that was what I read 30 years ago (ahem, more like 36 years ago) when my pets died. It’s a fine book, but maybe some variety is good, too. And I always think more books is better. Lots more books. New and shiny books.
The End of Something Wonderful walks the line between serious and reassuring, and light and funny, which I think is much needed. The humor is perfectly deployed and never too heavy. If you know anything about children, you know the following advice is always useful:
"Don't get excited and try [to] bury something that isn't dead. Not only is it rude, but it is also annoying when the Something Dead walks away before the backyard funeral is even over."
(I once had to tell my kid that they couldn’t dig a mouse up to see if it had been reincarnated.)
Outside of these highly helpful and slightly funny sections, this book offers actual help for a grieving child. It made me tear-up, remembering the pets I’ve lost and anticipating the loss in our future.
Also, if your child is struggling with loss, another good resource we used when the last dog died was a workbook called I Miss My Pet: A Workbook for Children About Pet Loss by Katie Nurmi, which is a free download. We used this after our last dog died, and it was extremely helpful. Kids feel things deeply. We need all the resources we can to help them survive childhood.
Copyright © 2023 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com