Talking to Luna about Death

We introduced our new dog, Frankie, to our granddaughter Luna today. This was not as easy as it might sound since Luna knew our dog Sammie (recently deceased) had been sick and since her mother, Sarah, is pregnant and often sick, then this has created some confusion about what exactly “sick” means. We have been building up to this conversation since we knew Sammie had terminal cancer. About a week before Sammie passed away, I told Luna that Sammie was going to die soon, and that was different from being sick. She looked at me and said, “Like the man in the volcano.”

She was referring to a short film that plays before the movie Inside Out. In the short film, a man who is a volcano goes extinct by disappearing under the water because he can’t find love. Luna found this very disturbing when she saw it and actually had to be taken out of the theater because she was so upset. “It’s so sad,” she kept saying. The truth is that it is sad. The volcano man dies because he can’t find love BUT then a new woman volcano is born near him and he is reignited because of love. Needless to say, this is impossible to explain to a 2 1/2-year-old. She just saw the man’s expression as he disappeared under the water and registered that as both sadness and death.

Since that time, Luna has made it through the short film. Still, she apparently was again very upset. Even today, we were listening to Pandora radio and a Hawaiian version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow came on. Luna asked me to turn the music off because it was that same sad song. I didn’t realize at first what she meant, and then I realized that she meant from the short film. It was definitely a Hawaiian song just like the one in the film. Dear Lord…

So, when I told her Sammie had died she nodded and said. “Like the man in the volcano.”

“Yes,” I said. Not quite knowing what else to say.

Today when Luna met Frankie, she looked at me and said, “Sammie’s dead.”

My response: “Yes. And next time you are at the orange grove, Grandpa and I will show you where she is buried.”

“Okay,” she said. She then leaned over and petted Frankie. When her dad came home later, she insisted on him meeting Frankie.

I think we made it over that hurdle. However, it is undeniable that some aspects of life are tricky to explain to a little person…

Until tomorrow.

Luna

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