June 10, 2010

RIP Princess Cherry

Our pet hamster, Princess Cherry passed away on 6/9/10.

My little KJ experienced "loss" for the first time.  I woke up and did my usual routine around the house.  When I went to check on the hamster, as I always do, I noticed it "sleeping" in its food bowl.  My stomach turned immediately.  I knew it wasn't eating or sleeping.  :(  I had noticed for a few days some different sleep habbits -not burrowing in the bedding.  I had no idea I was going to find her like that though.

My first thought was to call Chris, he was upstairs sleeping in on his day off.  I knew I wouldn't be able to take her out of the cage.  Then I realized that KJ needed to know before we just took care of everything.  It's her pet and I felt she was old enough to know the truth.  (I'm big on telling her the truth)  So, the next thing that I thought was, "I'll call mom; she'll be able to give me good advice on how to handle this situation" (I had my fair share of pets growing up --and my fair share of having to bury my pets)

So, when it finally came time to telling KJ, I was prepared for her to take it pretty hard.  It was her present for her 5th birthday.  It was her very first furry friend that she was "responsible" for.  She talked with her hamster, showed her things through her cage.  She would even use a My Little Pony brush to brush her little hamster.  She loved that thing so much!  KJ told just about everyone about "Princess Cherry".

I also kind of thought she might not take is as hard and I was expecting because she had handled the death of a fish and aquatic frog very well.  I had already explained that the aquatic pets don't always live very long.

We all went to living room and sat on the couch to "talk".  When I shared the news with her, I choked up and started tearing up.  I knew her tears were coming when I saw her lips start to quiver and frown.  My heart broke for my baby, experience "loss" for the first time.  Her first reaction was "oh, no (as she was already crying) we're going to have to tell my friends..."  She said I should email or text the mommies of her friends and let them know that her hamster died.  Then when we explained that we could all bury her together, she said, "I don't want to bury her." I told her that she didn't have to -that mommy and daddy would do it if she didn't want to watch.  but then she said "can't we just keep her?"  lol!!  My poor baby didn't want to see Princess Cherry "go".

So, she wanted to be the one to take her out of the cage and lay her in her "grave".  She even pet her very gently, one last time and said, "aw, she's so cute.".  She handled the burial very well.  Then as we were walking back towards the house, she held my hand and said, while giggling, "At least she won't bite me any more!"  hee hee  such an optimist, just like her momma!  :)

Princess Cherry only came up in conversation about 2 times later that day.  We put the cage out of sight to help her 'move on'.  Thank God we had already planned a trip to Sea World so I think it really helped to get her mind on something fun.

Having a 5 year old bury their own pet is tough . . .

Today, I was caught off-guard when KJ asked if she could go out and see Princess Cherry again.  She actually wanted to see her dead hamster . . . I wonder if she understands that dead means gone forever.  I think she figures, 'well, I know where she is buried; can't I just go dig her up to see her again?'

I plan on printing out and framing a picture for Kj's room.

So, now we are down to just 3 fish...


  1. Poor kid. Death is so hard on them. We had to put down a dog we'd had last fall and my 3 1/2 year old still will randomly say, "Cameron died" in a worried voice. The text I use to teach Human Development classes says that kids don't really start to understand death until age 7-8 and they don't fully comprehend the totality of rituals (like funerals) and other customs until the preteen years. I hope your little one doesn't miss Cherry too badly. Cute hamster!

  2. Sorry to hear about the death of Princess Cherry, even more sorry to hear that your child had to learn so soon about loss. You did a great job explaining it to her and handling it.