Okay, O Readership, we gots a big question, a hard question, a question that my mother asked me, and which I was utterly unprepared to deal with–and so, I turn as always, to that font of all knowledge.
My childhood dog, Muffy, a Pomeranian mutt, is seventeen years old, mostly blind, entirely deaf, and thoroughly incontinent. She is, however, mostly cheerful, in a vauge, old dog kind of way, and so has been allowed to live out her days, wandering aimlessly in the garden, reliving her glory days as the bane of moles and other small mammals, and pretending she hasn’t been fed in the last hundred years. My mother loves her dearly–the dog has been with her longer than anybody but yours truly–and my kid brother Max loves her despite the fact that the dog mostly loathes him unless he’s dropping food.
However, now she has an ailing heart, and stomach cancer. One simply does not go to heroic lengths for a dog of Methusalah’s years, so as soon as she appears to be in any pain, my mother will have her put to sleep. (Expressions of sympathy welcome, but my grief is very much muted by the fact that the dog has lived an absurdly long and full life with people who loved her–we should all be so lucky. And more practically, not having lived with her for a dozen years, it’s not going to leave the void in the house that was so painful with Loki. Any for my mother, of course, will be passed on.)
But…six year old kid. And now my mother calls me with the hard question–she does NOT want Max present at the actual moment, but she doesn’t know whether or not he should be allowed to see the body afterwards–whether it’ll provide neccessary closure or simply be a traumatic experience. I find myself somewhat torn, although I’m leaning strongly towards not. I do think that under no circumstances should he be lied to–lying to kids about death is a Bad Thing. But…again…I feel remarkably guilt to this day about not being present for the passing of my first cat, and in a life largely unmarred by major regrets, that one stands as a monolith to Me Fucking Up. But again, I was an adult. I’ve never felt any pangs about not witnessing the corpse of my childhood guinea pig (which was wrapped up in a pillow case and buried sight unseen.) And my mother wants very much to do the right thing.
Anybody with kids, or with traumatic memories of being kids, or what, have any advice?