Dear Annie: One of our two sweet dogs died recently. Do you have any suggestions for how to explain it to our two children, who are 3 and 7 years old? She had heart disease that progressed quickly -- within a month and mainly over the last five days of her sweet life.
Thank you very much. -- Explaining to Our Children
Dear Explaining: Losing a pet is always difficult, whether you are a child or an adult. They were a member of your family that was with you for too short a time. I am very sorry for your loss. When explaining to your children, avoid saying that they just went to sleep; rather, tell them that they will not be physically coming back. Try to find children's books that address this issue. "Dog Heaven" by Cynthia Rylant is a great one. I also always find comfort in reading the classic "Rainbow Bridge" poem:
"Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
"When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
"All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
"They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
"You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
"Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together ... "
-- Author Unknown
Dear Annie: Your advice to the gentleman who wrote about his fiancee's discomfort at family gatherings with his ex around was spot-on. I would also have mentioned that, in addition to having been married to his first wife for more than 20 years, he has grown children with her, which may also mean shared grandchildren someday.
His fiancee could very well find herself with his ex at a Little League game or dance recital.
It would behoove her to understand that such a scenario is natural when married to someone who was formerly married, and all is OK. Just more adults to love those grandbabies! -- Being Positive Helps
Dear Being Positive: What a wonderful perspective you have! Thank you for sharing.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.