The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Beyond wordless

Monday, 3 June 2013

kerry-blue-terrier

 

David Aaronovitch tells a tale in today’s Times which seems to speak volumes about, uh, attitudes to death, or families, or Britishness or… something, such that I thought I must share it with you. The background is that the Aaronovich family dog, a Kerry Blue, has been diagnosed with cancer and will die soon. 

When the vet told us, my wife Sarah and I were upset enough on our own account. But Sarah was particularly worried about how the children would take it. Exams were coming; there were other problems to be dealt with. Perhaps we should put off telling them until the moment was more propitious.

Then, as we dithered, a friend who lives in Lincolnshire phoned and told us about her experience. She has four young children, and they had grown together, played together, yapped together with their dog, a schnauzer called Dennis. Dennis was afflicted by illness rather more suddenly than Ruby and a schoolday visit to the vet established that it was probably best for the poor animal to be ushered in the next world within the week.

Our friend could not bring herself to tell the children who she knew would be badly affected by the news. So she didn’t let on, which meant that on the day of execution she had done nothing to prepare her little ones. They came home from school to the dogless house and, amazingly, didn’t seem to notice. So our friend put off the dreaded moment again.

Tuesday came and went, then Wednesday and she began to wonder. After a week in which not one of the children had so much as mentioned the dog once, it occurred to their mother that she might have overestimated the trauma of Dennis’s demise. To this day she hasn’t said anything and neither have her children.

Source

10 comments on “Beyond wordless

  1. Wednesday 5th June 2013 at 10:46 am

    What a blog this is! The posted story makes my skin crawl, and recoil at the conclusions that repressed ‘Tea Party’ kinds of parents might draw;
    then I find love in Kitty’s humanity, and finish by laughing out loud at her joke. Thank you for all this.
    PS I have sent your story to Winstons’ Wish as an opportunity for them to respond with vigour.

  2. Wednesday 5th June 2013 at 10:36 am

    What a blog this is! The posted story makes my skin crawl, and recoil at the conclusions that repressed parents might draw; then I find love in Kitty’s humanity, and finish by laughing out loud at her joke. Thank you all.
    PS I am sending the story to Winstons’ Wish as an opportunity for them to respond with vigour.

  3. Kitty

    Tuesday 4th June 2013 at 10:24 am

    It also reminds me of my favourite joke.
    Man rings his wife at work and tells her the cat’s dead. ‘Oh my god!’ she says, ‘you could have broken it to me more gently.’
    ‘How do you mean?’
    ‘Well, you could’ve phoned and said the cat’s on the roof, then later told me you were still having problems getting her down and then you’d tell me she’s fallen off and, finally, you break the news that nothing could be done to save her.’
    A few weeks later the man rings his wife at work again.
    ‘Your mum’s on the roof…’

  4. Kitty

    Tuesday 4th June 2013 at 9:55 am

    I’m having flashbacks. I am that coward. It was 24 years ago. I picked my mum up from Heathrow after she had been staying with friends in Australia for a few weeks. Her mum (my gran) had died unexpectedly whilst she was away. I didn’t want to spoil her holiday so I decided to tell her the moment she came through arrivals. At arrivals, I decided to wait until we were in the car park. Then in the car park, I thought I’d wait until we were in the car. We were halfway up the A1 before I finally managed to tell her. I often wonder how long I could have kept it going…

  5. Tuesday 4th June 2013 at 7:49 am

    One of the most disfunctional piece of parenting I’ve ever heard of in my life. I really thought we had moved on from children protecting parents protecting children. Aaarrrggghhhh!!!

  6. Jonathan

    Tuesday 4th June 2013 at 7:14 am

    And stupid exams could do with knocking off the pedestal we’ve erected to worship them on, if they get in the way of human compassion and simple common sense.

  7. Tuesday 4th June 2013 at 6:35 am

    Kids picking up the ‘mum’s not talking about it so we really can’t talk about it so it must be rally bad’ vibe, surely. Horrible horrible story that makes me feel slightly sick. But a good lesson. The truth is the only option. Ever.

  8. Lol Owen

    Monday 3rd June 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I don’t think it’s a case of stiff upper lip afflicting the youngsters, or, in my darker mind, the fact that they have the attention span of a goldfish. Either they just don’t give a damn about the dog or they are in that huge river in Africa which if so is not healthy in fostering long term attitudes towards death and loss. IMO.

    • Kathryn Edwards

      Tuesday 4th June 2013 at 1:46 am

      . . . or the trustworthiness of one’s adult caregivers.

  9. Monday 3rd June 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Charles, call me old fashioned, but that really does not ring true. There has to be another unspoken factor. Surely!

Leave a Comment