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Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Remember to look for the "coming" after the "going".

Dear Nana,

How can I explain the death of a pet to my child?


Dear Worried,

The death of any person or any animal that is loved is a very difficult experience to understand let alone accept whether you are a child or an adult. And people say the dumbest things when they are trying to comfort a grieving person. Some say silly things like, "God needed another angel up in Heaven." That is first of all completely incorrect. Humans, animals and Angels are totally different species of creation and one does not turn into the other. Secondly, it puts the blame on God who clearly says in the Bible that Death is His enemy and He will one day destroy it. I find children like clear absolutes and don't really comprehend symbolism so in my opinion it is always best to tell them the truth.

Here is the truth as I understand it. God never wanted Death in this world. He wanted Life Forever but Adam and Eve, the first humans, disobeyed God and that brought Death and sickness and even accidents into our world. Since that time there are always "Comings" and "Goings" in this world. We go on a vacation trip and then we come home. Grandma comes to visit us and then she goes home again. Sometimes the goings make us sad. We don't like to see Grandma leave but we know that after the going there will be another coming when she visits again. Birth is a coming and death is a going. After a person dies, if they love Jesus, they go to where He lives and they don't come back to us. But some day we can go to them and in Jesus' home there are no more goings, just comings. I don't know for sure that our animals go to Jesus' home too but the Bible says there is a great crowd of every creature from the earth in heaven around God's throne (Revelation 5:11-13). Also some people have died and gone to Heaven and then they came back to their bodies again. Many of them say they met pets they had that died and their pets came to greet them in Heaven. So I think we might be able to hope that our pets do go to Heaven.

But what happens when we die or a pet dies? Our body is like a space suit like the astronauts wear. It makes us able to live on the earth like their spacesuit helps them to live out in space where there is no oxygen to breathe. But our bodies can break. They get too old or too sick to work anymore. Sometimes the doctors can fix them but after a while they just break and can't be fixed so that's when we leave our body behind and go to Heaven with Jesus and He gives us a brand new body that will never break. That's really good for the person who dies but the ones he leaves behind who love him are very sad to have him go.

Now that's where Jesus did a really neat thing when He made our hearts. He knew there would be comings and goings on this earth and they would make us sad so He made our hearts able to grow bigger. Our hearts have a special place for every person and every pet we love. Those places will always be there in our hearts and we can go there and remember the love we have for those who have gone away. But after every going there will be a coming and our hearts can grow bigger to love the new person or pet who will someday come to us. They won't take the place of the one who left but our heart will grow bigger to love and enjoy them too so sadness goes away and joy comes again.

"Comings and Goings". This is the way life is right now. Some day Jesus is going to fix all of it and there will be no more going to make us sad. Until then remember you always have that place and memories in your heart. Remember also to look for the coming that will follow the going.

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