The loss of a Fur Baby – a child’s heartbreak

On the first weekend of 2019, my husband and I went through a very difficult ‘first’. The first death of a beloved pet. Our daughter got a guinea pig from us for Christmas the year before. She celebrated their first year together on Christmas day. And boy did she love that guinea pig! It was a love like that of any fur baby. She has felt incredibly guilty since Phina’s passing; “Why didn’t I know? How did I miss this? I should have known something serious was wrong!” All of these things sound familiar, as we all go through similar questions/statements when we lose anyone we love.

The thing that really hurts though, is not being able to do anything to take your child’s pain away! The agony, the heartbreak! The powerlessness! It’s awful. I cried myself to sleep one night. I was devastated at the loss of the guinea pig, but I was even more devastated at the fact that I couldn’t do anything to take the agony away! I couldn’t answer any of those big questions. This was a fur baby. Her fur baby. All I could do was reassure her that she had done everything she could have. She felt guilty because she hadn’t played with Phina the night before. She’s fourteen years old. She is allowed to be a responsible pet owner and live the life of a fourteen year old. Phina lived in her room. Our daughter played with her and cuddled with her daily. On the Friday night she sat on her phone and played video games with her friends all night. On Saturday I made her help me take down and pack away Christmas decorations for hours. She went back up to her room and doesn’t remember if she checked in on Phina then or not. At 11pm, she found her on her side in her cage, not moving. Her guilt overwhelming.

The only thing we can do when facing the death of a loved one, is reassure our children it wasn’t their fault. Her guinea pig had fresh food, fresh water. She had made sure of that on Friday night. It’s just a sad and cruel twist of fate that the one day she didn’t give her guinea pig the normal attention she got, is the day she died. I guess that’s Murphy’s/Sod’s law.

I’m sharing this story because I feel like every parent will have to go through this at some point in time and no one prepares you for the heartache you will feel for your child.

We had a ceremony on Sunday January 6. We buried her in the woods, in a box, wrapped in tissue paper and covered in rocks. Our dearest daughter made the beautiful headstone you see in the photo. We all shed a tear, she may have just been a guinea pig but she had found a way into all of our hearts and she was a real cutie, full of personality.

I’m writing this story a week and half after Phina passed away. Our daughter has started smiling again. She visits her grave daily.

One day my kids will have to face the death of a human loved one and I dread that day. But all I can say is, when it comes to your children and their beloved pets passing, it’s going to break your heart into a million pieces, but you will get through it, just as we make it through the death of our family members and good friends.

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