Alert very sad-you may cry
Recently my family had to say goodbye to our beloved Min Pin Chewie. He was a very patient and loving dog. I don't know any dog that had a sweeter disposition than him. At age 13 and a half years old, he was older than any of my children. He's been a constant in all of their lives. Preparing them for his death was sad but a necessity. Helping them to say goodbye to him was a challenge.
As he wasn't quite himself in December, I let the kids know that this is probably going to be his last Christmas. As he slowed down his eating, it became apparent that time was not on his side. When we made the appointment to get him checked out at the vet, we talked to the kids about how they might not be able to do anything for him. We let them know that if that's the case we might need to send him to heaven. As my children are eleven, eight, and five they accepted this without question initially (I am sure my oldest knew more then she let on). After the vet appointment, we recieved the news we dreaded but knew was coming. Chewie was in stage 4 kidney failure. We gently told the kids that we would in fact have to send Chewie to heaven in a few days. We all cried and then shared favorite memories of Chewie.
As the kids had more time to think and process it, my son asked more questions. He wanted to know how we would send Chewie to heaven. I tried to explain this as gently as possible, letting him know that with Chewie being so sick, we would give him medicine that would help him. My son immediately said "you're going to kill him." He began crying as did his little sister. I gave them hugs and talked to them about how sick Chewie was. We talked about how much pain he is in and how he can't get better. We were honest with them and allowed ourselves to cry too.
We scheduled to take Chewie to the vet after school on Monday so that we can all say our goodbyes. My son struggled the most and ended up coming home early. He asked that we buy a stuffed animal for him and his sisters that Chewie could have with him and then they could keep to remember him by. It was a wonderful idea, so we did that. This appeared to bring comfort to all three kids. We all went together to take Chewie to the vet. There was lots of crying in the car and some yelling too as the two younger kids wanted to wait. It's hard for them to understand how sick Chewie was. Once at the vet, we were able to give lots of hugs and kisses. My husband then waited out in the waiting room with the kids while I cradled Chewie in my arms and he left this world. I brought the stuffed animals out to give the kids. On the way home we again shared memories of Chewie. We will continue to do so as it is a comfort to everyone and keeps his memory alive.
“Where are you going to college?”
“Which school did you pick?”
“What is your major?”
I’ve noticed that a lot of people tend to assume that everyone is going to college. When we talk to someone age 16-22, we automatically start asking the above questions (me included). Wouldn’t it be nicer to ask “What are your plans after high school?” or for the older youth “Are you working or in school?"
We have great technical schools in our area. This is a great option for a lot of youth and should be encouraged. I often have the impression that it is looked down upon, as if the kids that choose to go there are not considered as bright as the kids that go to college. There are so many options at tech schools for a lot of great careers. Plus, a kid finishes their programs ready to work and with a lot less debt than college. In addition, a lot of the high schools offer the A+ program. If a student completes this program, they receive two years of community college or technical school free.
Some youth want to go right into the workforce. Maybe they need a break from school or maybe they want to learn a trade/obtain an apprenticeship. Forcing (or strongly encouraging) someone to go to college just because it seems like that it is what they “should” be doing, usually results in poor outcomes. There are numerous places that you can start out at with a high school diploma and work your way up. Sometimes they even pay for classes (if needed) along the way.
Of course, college is a great choice for a lot of people. It just doesn’t have to be the only choice.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!