Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye Morgan

One of our beloved kitty cats, Morgan, passed away this month.  She was such a love, and she will be missed by everyone.  Morgan was a cat who LOVED being around people.  She was sweet and gentle and of course very curious.  She also liked to eat "people food" rather than her cat food.  This bad habit of hers was the reason for her early passing according to our vet.  Morgan died of a heart attack due to a poor diet.  As much as we tried to keep her away from people food, Morgan would find each and every crumb left behind.  She was the first to remind us if someone left a cereal bowl on the kitchen table and she was such a helper after circle when our young friends might have left bits of snack on the rug.  Morgan was always underfoot and ready to play.  She seemed to really enjoy having a house full of children each day.  She would welcome families as they arrived and bid them farewell when the school day was done.
After Morgan's death we shared a "good-bye circle".  This is a gathering where I inform the children of the factual information and they have an opportunity to respond to this new information however the may need to.  Many comments are made, feelings shared and tears are often shed by many. We began the circle by quietly passing a photograph of Morgan around circle. I lit a candle and gently announced that Morgan had died and shared that I was sad about this fact because I was going to miss Morgan very much. 
Next, I asked if anyone had any questions about what I had shared.  Several children had raised their hands.  Questions were asked and answered in a matter of fact manner.  Short and honest were my answers.
Q:       "Why did Morgan die?"
A:        "Her lifespan ended."
Q:         "Where did she go?"
A:         "I don't know for sure, but I like to believe she went to heaven."
Q:         "When will she come back to school?"
A:         "She will not be coming back to school. Morgan died, she will not return."
Q:          "Did you cry when Morgan died?"
A:          "Yes, I felt sad."
Q:           "Does Diana (Morgan's sister cat) know that Morgan died?"
A:           "Yes, when Morgan died, I let Diana smell Morgan.  I think she misses Morgan too."
Q:            "Will you get new cat now?"
A:            "No, not now.  Maybe someday."

Children are curious and caring, they want to be told the truth and they need to have answers.  This will only help them to come to accept their loss.  Just to be clear, not all of the children cared that Morgan had passed away.  And that is okay.  Children at different ages are at different stages of understanding about the concept of death.  And then each child is at their own personal point of understanding.  Be available for questions.  Speak from your heart.  Tell the truth.  Most importantly don't try and force your feelings on to the children.  If the question was not asked about how I felt about the situation, I probably would have shared that I was sad with the children, yes.  But would I tell them to feel sad?  No, not at all.  The final part of the "Goodbye Circle" was to pass the share stone.  When it was their turn, the children could share with the group one word or a story about their time with Morgan.  My favorite comment from this exercise was this,
"I loved Morgan because she loved me."
You can't get more honest than that!
Simply sweetness, that's what this job is.
In Peace,