When do I tell the kids that their favorite dog is dead?

We’re going to visit my parents for Easter. My kids loved their dog. It died yesterday. Do I tell the kids now or do I wait? They’re going to be so upset.

It’s a beautiful, sunny Easter morning. The children are dressed in pale blue seersucker and frilly pink dresses, maybe they’re wearing straw hats with grosgrain ribbons and white patent leather shoes. You pull into Grammy and Grampy’s driveway, the children spill out of the car in their Easter finery, shouting with happiness and excited about their visit and their Easter baskets and maybe the pancakes they had after church.

Their little voices sing out, “Hi Grammy! Hi Grampy! Where’s Fluffy?”

“Who?”

“Fluffy! The dog! Our favorite animal in the whole entire world!”

“Ohhhhhhhhhh, Fluffy. She’s dead. Sorry.”

“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! We hate Easter! We’re scarred for life! Now we’re going to be meth addicts and sleep with inappropriate people at too young an age because we’re damaged!”

Tell them as soon as you can. They’re going to be okay. My dad died, which was terrible, but almost worse was telling my kids. It was heartbreaking, and I briefly entertained the idea of not telling them until I absolutely had to (Papa went on vacation for a reeeeeallllllly long time!), but part of being a person, no matter what age you are, is dealing with stuff like this. Your frank discussion, support, and hugs will stay with them for the rest of their lives, whether they know it or not.

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