Dealing with Tragedy

Sunday was a terrible day. My husband walked outside, and our beloved German Shepherd Aster followed him. But instead of going with Howard into the office built behind our garage, Aster dashed into the street and was killed (right in front of our house) by a car.

We were all devastated. My two kids were so sad, that they didn’t go to school on Monday. I let them stay home, which is not something I do lightly.

But to put it all in perspective, on Sunday we had a computer repair man at our house. His five-year old son has leukemia. Yes, every loss hurts … and I know it is normal to mourn the death of a family pet, but his family is dealing with real danger. Although it didn’t help my kids, it certainly struck Howard and I that our kids are our real treasure. And as long as they are okay, there’s really nothing of significance to complain about.

On another trivial note, my computer power supply died on Sunday. I learned a few things about backing up, which I will share at another time. Yes I did have a backup, but it wasn’t so easy to get my files re-installed on another computer. But that’s a rant for some other day.


  1. Paula says

    Hello, so sorry about Aster, I know how you are feeling,my little grandog McGraw, a little white and brown jack russell loved to run and run he did to his death……He was hit by a hit and run driver, never stopped, within eyesight of his house,,,,,Two little angels stopped and picked him up and took him to the vet,,,,My daughter in law called me cause she babysits kids and couldn’t go there, so I did and so did my son, It was his dog that she had bought for him………We had to take him to the vet hospital and they gave him blood transfusions and tried everything but he died in front of all of us………IT HURTS SO BAD, I can’t tell you how bad I hurt………I cry alot over little McGraw,,,he was the sweetest cuddliest little pup you’d ever want………He just loved everyone……..and such a horrible way to die………..We were about to put him down but my son said to him…Hey buddy, just please die so I don’t have to make that decision and within 10 minutes he died…….and my son thanked him so much………..His chest was so bruised, the vet said that he really got hit hard………….I’m sorry for you Maybe you could e-mail me and we can keep in touch,,,,,,,thanks Paula,,,,,,,

  2. June says

    Barbara, I too have lost a child and can understand the pain of loss. No matter how big our personal hurt may be, it is something that we will be able to handle. As a family that lives and loves together, you are a family that will be able to heal together. Knowing that our loved ones, pets included, may be able to go one with us forever; even if only in our hearts; makes a loss somewhat easier to deal with.
    My prayers are with you and your family at this time of loss.
    June in SoCal

  3. Shari says

    I want to express my greatest sympathy on the loss of your loving Aster. I lost my Sparky two months ago and understand the deep loss you must feel. I tried to understand why this loss so devastated me and I finally determined that in life a dog loves you like no other being. He/she is there to release the tensions and stresses of each day without a list of demands in return. I also found the loss of this loyal and true friend reminded me of the losses I had experienced in the past. Yes, acknowledge that others have struggles of their own that are great but in no way should that make the loss of Aster any less than it is to you. My children each grieve the loss of Sparky in a unique way. This experience has allowed us to talk about differences at a whole new level. Be good to yourself and your family.

  4. Miriam says

    I’m really sorry about your dog, I lost my lovely Rottweiller last year under strange circumstances (It seems she was poisoned) and remembering her still hurts me bad. The death of a loved one regardless if it’s a family member, friend or pet is tough to deal with..I hope you and your kids overcome the loss soon…….Thanks for your lovely website..regards….Miriam.

  5. Rebecca says

    I’m so sorry to hear about the furry memeber of your family passing :( Blessings to your family and here’s to hoping your hearts heal quickly.
    Yes, it’s indeed always to remember that there is someone else who has things worse than you.That’s what I always try to tell myself during the rought times! :)

  6. Jill says

    Barbara, I am so sorry to hear about the death of Aster. I am, and always will be, a huge animal love and in addition to having my own pets, work with several rescue groups. Remember that Aster knew how much you loved him, and many animals never get a glimpse of that kind of love from anyone. I’m sure he’s probably relating wonderful stories about ‘his family’ to the other cats, dogs, and pets that have already crossed the Rainbow Bridge. You are also so true in stating that our children are a precious gift that we need to cherish daily. Please take care & know that thoughts are with you.

  7. says

    Oh my. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Thank you for sharing with us. I, too, recently lost a pet suddenly and it was quite a sad shock. Like you, I am very grateful that my family is healthy.
    Peace & Light,
    Lois Carter Fay

  8. Tammy says

    It is hard to lose a pet because they are like a part of the family. I could not agree with you more about cherishing your children’s health and well being. Life is short and we should all live each day to the fullest. Our son was kidnapped and we were very blessed to have him returned unscathed.
    God Bless

  9. DK says

    Please read the book “Dog Heaven” by Cynthia Rylant with your kids. It will help so much. Feeling your pain.

  10. Elizabeth says

    i am so sorry for your loss.. i also loss someone dear to me, my pomeranian got out by climbing the chain-link fence and got ran over…… i still cry if i even see a dog that looks like her…. i am sooooooo sorry for your loss….. my prayers will be with you…….

  11. says

    Dear Barbara-
    It was sad to read your story about your pet dog.
    All pets are so wonderful and it’s heart-breaking to lose one and extra tragic since it was so sudden.
    I also had tears for the child who is sick with
    cancer and I wanted to send some information that
    might help the family if they are open to all kinds of treatments. My health website has many articles on healing, many for children. If they read some of these articles I think they will have new hope for a cure and even ways to get the whole family on a healthier path. Best wishes to you and your family and friends, here’s the website:

  12. says

    Barbara and Family,
    I’m so sorry for the loss of your German Shepherd, Aster. And though our children may be more precious to us, our pets still become such a very real part of our family and can be so sorely missed if they are gone.
    Dogs have always been such an important part of my life, so I understand your mourning. They can have such a deep sense of our feelings. When I grew up on a farm, we always had a dog or two. Sometimes they were strays, but each one was so special. Sometimes we couldn’t break them from chasing cars, and we lost several of them because of it. I’ll never forget when a dog that my dad let me pick out of a litter as my very own dog got killed. Daisy was run over by our milk hauler. My brothers came in the house to tell me, and I was completely devastated! I didn’t want to see her that way, because I wanted to remember her as alive and well. So my brothers tenderly buried her for me in our grove. I’m so sorry you and your kids have to go through what you do with the loss of Aster.
    Right now, we have a Bichon named Cuddles, and I understand how attached you must have been to Aster. Dogs are truly one of God’s good gifts!

  13. Venkat says

    You put the whole thing in perspective. You couldn’t have expressed it in better words. Keep it up.

  14. Pam says

    Barbara, Cynthia Rylant has written a wonderful book entitled Dog Heaven. When we lost our beloved “Sassy”, I read this book to my boys. I would encourage you to read this book as a family. It is heartwarming and touching.

  15. Daphne says

    My sympathies on the loss of your beloved pet. It is like losing a family memmber – one that gives love and loyalty unreservedly without demanding too much in return.
    Your putting things in perspective shows your courage and your ability to reach out to people even when you have a sorrow. Not everyone be so selfless.
    Having “lost” my only son, I would agree our children are our most precious gift, but even they are just “lent” to us as Khalil Gibran has said very eloquently. So yes, we have to treasure every minute of their existence.
    Thinking of you

  16. Cindy says

    I wanted to extend my deepest condolences for the loss of your pet, Aster. A loss is a loss. I realize it isn’t a person and I completely agree with you about your children being the most precious but losing a pet is still a tremendous loss. We lost our cat of 15 years this December. It was extremely difficult but it also gives us a chance to explain life and death to our children. They are able to feel the pain of a pet. We lost my mother-in-law almost five years ago. What I told my children is… they should look in the sky at night and find their grandmother’s star. They can look there every night and talk to her or simply think of things they want to say to her. We do that with the pets we have lost as well. You will always have a part of them in the sky… to always remember and cherish.
    Again, I wish your family well during this difficult time.

  17. Emily Weinberger` says

    Dear Barbara,
    It’s always a heart wrenching thing to lose a beloved pet, and especially right in front of the family. When we lost our Pumpky someone sent me this story. It helped. Your children might get some solice from it.
    Thanks again for all your internet help which I incorporate into my speech activities with special need children.

  18. Karen Buker says

    Dear Barbara – Just to tell you I’m sorry about the sadness you are feeling with the loss of your dog. Everything was created spiritually before it was created here and your dog had a spirit and you loved who that was. So it is okay to mourn and feel bad about the tragedy. And it is also right and good to count your blessings. Just wanted to let you know that I felt bad and wanted to send you my condolences. Karen Buker

  19. Patty says

    I am so sorry to hear of your precious dog’s death! I know how painful it is!
    I lost my beautiful cat “Surely” when she was only two years old! This was 9 years ago. While the pain has somewhat dimished, I still mourn for her even now. She was an integral part of the family, as Aster was to you and your family. I have even heard that it is not uncommon for pet owners to frequently mourn their pets more intensely then humans! The fact almost doesnt surprise me.
    Anyways, please accept my commiserations and heart-felt sympathy! Your dog is now an angel dog, as my cat is an angel cat. Our pets, as our human loved ones are watching over us too.

  20. Sue says

    Dear Barbara,
    Dealing with the loss of a pet can be really difficult. My husband and I have both lost parents and pets. My brother lost a daughter at the age of 5 months. My heart goes out to your family at this time. A pet can sometimes feel like a child. Right?

  21. Sue says

    Dear Barbara,
    Dealing with the loss of a pet can be really difficult. My husband and I have both lost parents and pets. My brother lost a daughter at the age of 5 months. My heart goes out to your family at this time. A pet can sometimes feel like a child. Right?

  22. Eleanor says

    Don’g try and deminish the loss of your beloved pet. She was a part of your family. You and your children loved Aster. I never have been able to understand why we humans seem ashamed to grieve over our wonderful pets and pretend that there is always something worse that could have happened to us. But what can be worse than losing someone or something that you love so suddenly and tragicly. Aster gave you and your children her endless love. At this moment in time she deserves your guiltless grief and remembrance. Your children loved their dog and through her and the next dog that you get, they will learn love and compassion for their fellow man and their ills and tragedies just as you feel for the repair man, his sick child and his family.

  23. Tom says

    This past summer we lost our precious little dog, she was violently attacked. Her injuries were so devastating that we had her put to sleep. Our 10 year old son was in the room when we had her put down. We all had so much love for her, that the wife and I decided to say goodbye as a family.
    Someone recommended getting another dog, which we did. But it was not an easy process, finding someone to take Hanna’s place. About 6 months has passed and our new dog has found her way into my heart. I was silently critical of the “new” dog but these animals have a way about circumventing a hard exterior that we sometimes display.
    I am on your listserve and frequently share your great site with other fellow parents!
    Best regards,

  24. heather says

    so sorry to hear about your loss. you can always think of things that could be worse, especially after talking to someone that has it worse. but you have to still take some time to grieve over your loved one, even if Aster was not “human”. the loss of a pet can be just at tough as the loss of a person. all i can say is, you have great memories to think back on, and with time, the pain will start to go even though you will never forget your special dog.

  25. gila says

    Dear Barbara,
    I was saddened to read that your family lost your dog — kids and I have gone through this and know it’s a family member — but grateful for your ability to put the loss in perspective. Every day of parenting healthy kids is a good day. Even the tough ones.
    Thanks for the great work on Surfnet, as well.
    best to you,

  26. says

    Barbara, I am so sorry for your loss. While it is true that there is always worse pain; always someone who is feeling a deeper loss, this does minimize your hurt.
    I like to think that our family members, whether on two or four feet share heaven with us. Your German Shepherd is no doubt chasing rabbits in heaven.
    May God grant you all peace.