A Little Boy's Grief

{First, a thank you to everyone for the outpouring of love. We've been humbled by the messages here, and on facebook... the phone calls... the emails... the texts... the cards... it's all amazing. Thank you thank you thank you.} I think that it goes without saying that last week was pretty tough for us. While Doug and I handled our grief pretty much as expected (that would be him stoically, and me a sobbing mess)... Spencer surprised us both. I guess we assumed he would take it at face value and just move on. That was not the case.

When he asked where Roxy went, Doug explained that she went to a "Happy Place" called Heaven, where she was going to live from now on because she wasn't sick there. (I steered clear of this conversation, thinking that me sobbing while saying "Happy Place" and "good for her" wouldn't quite sell it.) Spencer took that in and moved on. For a little bit. Not surprisingly, he started asking us "Roxy in the Happy Place now?" rather often throughout the day. As the day wore on, he noticed things missing... her bed, her bowls... and asked "She bring that with her?" To which we responded yes, and then explained how she wouldn't need them here anymore since she was staying in Heaven now. [I realize that it's confusing to tell a child you can bring your worldly goods to Heaven, but I was on the fly here.] You could see he was processing it all... but not really clear on what exactly was going on. As the day wore on, his questions got more and more in-depth, and we could tell he was really trying to piece it together in his mind.

Luckily, a gift arrived that day from our sweet friends Kelly and Craig. It was a book called "Dog Heaven," which I highly recommend to anyone going through this painful experience... adult or child. It was truly our saving grace... it illustrated to Spencer where Roxy's new home was. It was helpful for him to see the fields she could run through, all the treats she could eat, how there was a bowl with her name on it up there. Throughout the first days without Roxy, Spencer asked to read "The book about where Roxy went" often.

But as the days progressed, the questions got harder and harder.

"Can I miss her?"

"If we buy her better kibbles/treats will she come back?"

"Who's going to eat my extra food now?"

"Does she like it there?"

"Better than here?"

"Who is God?" {gulp}

"Does she like God better than me?"

You get the picture. Clearly, he was not taking this at face value and moving on. We kept the answers as simple as possible... and made sure he understood that it was not about her liking a place or a person better... it was just the only place she could be right now.

He's also become increasingly fixated on who has a dog, and who doesn't. He's polled everyone he's run into in the last week... which has proven difficult for all parties involved since not everyone knew we lost Roxy. So there were definitely some uncomfortable moments when people answered "No, but you do, right?!" He's also become a lot more aware of dogs in his presence and asks to play with them if the opportunity arises.

In an effort to have something to look forward to, and an escape from the sorrow, we planned an impromptu trip to Boston. It was all about Spencer... and things we've always said "Wouldn't it be fun to..." (If you are one of our Boston friends and wondering why you didn't know we were there... apologies, but we needed to keep it just us this time.) We did the science museum, a duck tour, the children's museum, some fun restaurants, a hotel suite... In short, it was a lot of fun. (More on that later.) And the questions let up a little... which was a nice reprieve.

But, when we came home it was clear Spencer still felt Roxy's absence just as much as we did... He ran into the family room as soon as we opened the door and responded "Just checking to see if Roxy's back yet!" when questioned about what he was doing. This morning, I found him with his hand on the couch cushion in the corner (aka "Roxy's Spot"). I asked what he was doing and he responded "Just checking to see if her spot's still warm."

So while I'm not sure it's true "grief," it's obvious that Spencer recognizes the [big] hole left in our family now and is working through some pretty big issues in his mind. It's definitely a larger event in his world than I thought it would be... and you can truly see he misses her. Which is nice in a way, because prior to this I would have told you that, at best, Roxy and Spencer had found a way to co-habitate. But it's also gut-wrenching to watch. I know we'll get past this point... but for now, this is where we are. I won't lie, I cannot wait until Spencer asks to play with his trains before school without the "We don't have to walk Roxy today, right?" part. So... if you've been wondering "How's Spencer doing?!" There you have it. He's processing, I think he's grieving, and I'm positive his world is a little different.

{I promise, there will be some happier posts soon.}