We all poured out of the van today, happy that the weekend was upon us and excited to get in the house and start our weekend with some much-needed free time. As I opened the door, a wave of heat immediately smacked me in the face and I made a quick beeline to turn on the air. The first thing out of my mouth – with a bit of a giggle – was, “My goodness, it’s hot in here. I hope Jimmy C. didn’t bake.”

My son went straight to the hamster’s cage to refill his water and take him out for play time… but my boy was suddenly and unusually still and silent.

Jimmy C. was dead.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Since my son is the oldest and – at 15 years old – is a junior in high school, he is typically very smart and responsible. Although he intentionally irritates his sisters on a regular basis, I make sure to talk to him often about how he should treat the ladies in his life. Today was proof that he is hearing me.

Without a word, he lifted up the cage and proceeded to remove it from the room before his little sisters or I could catch a glimpse of our deceased pet. My 9-year-old daughter, who was the closest to Jimmy C., asked in a panic if he was dead and my son, reluctantly, confirmed.

My daughter broke down and ran into my arms, balling. I tried to keep from doing the same.

As I held my baby girl tight and cried with her, I desperately searched my brain for something – anything – to say to make her feel better. I could think of nothing but “It’s ok, honey.” I wished I could do something to remove the grief from my sweet daughter’s heart… but I came up empty.

Looking into my daughter’s tear-streaked and blushed face, guilt hit me like a Mack truck. If I had left the air on, Jimmy C. would probably be in the palm of her hand, sniffing around, and putting a smile on her face. The salesman at Tropical Kingdom warned me that hamsters are sensitive to heat and, as I rushed out the door this afternoon to pick everyone up from school, I didn’t even think of the tiniest member of our family.

My tears are flooding the keyboard as I type this and a fresh flood of regret is taking over my heart. Who knew a small $3 pet, purchased on impulse, would have such a profound effect on me. I guess my love for the cute little fur-ball grew every time he put a smile on my children’s faces.

Thank you, Jimmy C.

I’m assuming that this isn’t the last of the tears to be shed around here, so I’m looking for information to help me make this as easy as possible for my kids. I turned to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for some ideas.

According to the AACAP, little kids between the ages of three and five don’t really understand death as something permanent, which would explain my 3-year-old’s behavior. She was also close to Jimmy, but while everyone else cried, she just danced around and reiterated to everyone that her “hamster was died.”By nine years old, kids usually get it… and sometimes, it’s really hard to accept.

They say that it’s important to share my own feelings with the kids and encourage them to come to me with theirs. It’s also good to do activities to remember our lost loved one. We had a little funeral, shared good thoughts about him, and then my son buried Jimmy C. in the yard as we all watched and silently cried.

In the future, we’ll get another pet – maybe a kitten. But for now, we’ll focus on dealing with our grief and getting each other through the first death we’ve ever experienced as a family.

Have you ever had a family pet die? How did you deal with it? Please share your experience in the comments.