Euthanasia- Quick, Moms- explain

The kids and I had family movie night last night. We watched “Marley and Me.” SPOILER ALERT: Shortly after the title credits, I realized I would, by the end of the movie, have to explain that Marley died. I’d read the book and previously watched the movie, but for some reason, that fact escaped me until after the DVD was in the player. Oops.

So, we watch this movie. The kids laugh when the puppy destroys things, and recall stories of the dog we got rid of a few years ago. She was the devil. A crazy husky. Crazy. Then, I got to explain to them that Jennifer Aniston’s character’s baby died when she had the miscarriage. My son asked me if I thought our baby was dead when he was inside me. I chose not to get into my history of miscarriages. I answered “No.” That’s all they need to know at five.

Then, Marley starts to get old. My kids start talking about how our dog is 10. They ask if our dog is getting old too. Then, the characters in the movie have to put Marley down.

My kids ask “What’s happening with Marley?”

“She’s not going to make it,” I explain.

“Like Grandma when she went up to heaven?”


“Why are they giving that dog a shot?” they ponder.

“Uh,” I stumble. How do I explain euthanasia (coincidentally on the day Jack Kevorkian died)?

“Mom! Why are they giving him a shot?”

“Well, kids, they are putting him to sleep.”

“Oh, good. He looks tired. When is he going to wake up?”

“He’s not going to wake up.”

“Why, Mommy?”

“Because that shot will make him sleep forever.”

“Sometimes I sleep forever. And, when I wake up, I’m hungry.” says my middle child.

“No, he’s not going to wake up. That shot is something doctors give to doggies when they hurt too much.” I attempt.

“Is that what they did to Grandma?”


“Oh, but Marley will be in Heaven with Jesus now!” my five year old rejoices.

I look over, to see my eight year old daughter sobbing. Just sobbing. Too much emotion.

Note to self: seriously think about the movies you are about to show your children, regardless if they say “Family Film of the Year!” on the cover.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. JDU
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 20:09:28

    Sooner or later, everybody has to come to terms with their own mortality, in their own way. I’m an atheist, and don’t believe in the afterlife. When/if I have children, I don’t know how I’m going to explain the concept of death to them. I’m certainly not going to tell them stories about heaven, because, no offense to your beliefs, I honestly believe that I would be lying to them.

    Euthanasia is an even trickier issue. But, kids perhaps learn more about how the world works in their first five years of life than the rest of their lives combined. They seem to be able to internalize the ugly facts of life without too much trouble.


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