I heard my 7-year-old son running around the house giggling. He came running to me laughing and saying, "Look mom, my hermit crab is naked.”
As he came to me giggling and holding a shell-less, pale, motionless hermit crab in his hand, my heart sank. I knew this was not good news.
I told him that I didn't think hermit crabs were supposed to be out of their shell like that and I didn't think it was a good sign. The news that the hermit crab was no longer alive was met with sadness.
What had started with laughter, ended in a little boy lying on his bed sobbing over the loss of Speedy the hermit crab.
His dad and I both gave him hugs, told him we were sorry for his loss and we let him cry and process what had just happened.
It was hard to see him so upset. There is a tendency for me as a parent to want to shelter my children from hard things, even the loss of a pet.
My husband and I both talked and felt like this was definitely one of those life lessons that we cannot protect our children from. As our boys get older they will experience even bigger and more difficult losses.
We felt it was important to let our son process and work through what had just happened in his own way, even if it seemed kind of silly that we were out in our backyard having a little burial ceremony for a hermit crab.
It was important for our son to go through that process, sharing what he liked about Speedy. Later he thanked us both for helping him feel better.
I learned a lot from that day too. Mainly, we need to allow our kids to go through natural processes. I don't like to see my children cry from hurt or pain, yet I know my son needed to cry to help him process through the sadness of loosing Speedy.
Also, our children are going to experience loss, pain and struggles as they get older and it is important now as parents to help them work through and figure things out in the little things they are learning.
Life is a journey and a process. Our children are traveling on the journey as well, learning and growing from their every day experiences and challenges.
As a parent, I feel I need to be a good steward in helping and allowing them to do that, even if at times I am not sure if I am doing it right or if I feel it is out of my league and I am overwhelmed by it.
That day it also struck me that I need to go through that process with them. I think it also helps them in how they relate to others who may be going through hard things or times too.
I am thankful for how God uses our children and everyday life experiences to help me learn and grow as a mama.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV