kids

"When our family cat passed away, my daughter only had one question."

Lego was my first baby, my ginger gentleman who my husband (then boyfriend) adopted from an RSPCA in 2009. He was two years old when joined our family and only ten when he devastatingly passed away last year.

When we had our human children in 2012 and 2014 he was always gentle, loving and caring toward them. He adored his sisters from the minute they entered our life. Whenever they were hurt he would go to them to check that they were OK. He would nap with them, play with them and just sit by their side wherever they were.

He was a cherished member of our family that we missed from the moment he was gone. My grief was severe but despite this, I also had an awareness that for my two young daughters this was the first time they had lost a pet. And in reality Lego wasn’t just a ‘pet’ to them, he was their furry brother and they were impacted too.

Lego as a baby. Image: Supplied.
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I did my best to support them and talk openly to them about what had happened and that it was good to feel sad about losing him; it meant that they had loved him.

My eldest daughter asked amongst her tears one night not long after Lego had passed away, “What happens if I forget Lego?”

I told her that we wouldn’t.

“How do you know?” she asked me.

“Because we will share stories about him and talk about him all the time,” I said.

In reality, I knew that sometimes our memories fade over time and the last thing I wanted was for my promise to be unfulfilled, nor did I want to continue on with my life without him always being a special part of it.

I started to think about what I could do for Lego to be a daily conversation in our house but one that was marked with joyfulness and laughter rather than his loss. That is when I discovered ‘Petlandia’ a personalised book featuring your own pet. And straight away I knew that was the tool we needed.

Shona's daughters, Milla and Addi. Image: Supplied.

‘Lego’s Adventures in Petlandia’ arrived in the mail a few weeks later. The cover featured our ginger, furry, spunky Lego as a hand drawn cartoon illustration and inside the pages was the heart-warming, funny and silly story of Lego travelling to ‘Hollywoof” to seek fame and fortune. It featured Lego taking selfies for his ‘Instapaw’ profile, his pursuits with the ‘Big Dogs’ of ‘Hollywoof’ and his appearances on chat shows as he rose to fame.

The story also featured my two daughter’s Milla and Addi. The narrative included scenes that incorporated them. They read his note explaining why he had left on a ‘petjet’ to try his luck in ‘Hollywoof’, they watched him on his ‘YouChew’ Channel as his followers grew and were proud as Lego paved his way in the land of fame and fortune.

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When I read the story to my two daughters for the first time their faces were overcome with the biggest smiles I’d seen in a long time. The story was engaging, the personalised elements left them in awe and it enabled them the opportunity to remember their Lego in a unique and joyful way.

At the end of the story, Lego returns home to them because he misses them so much and his family is what ultimately brings him happiness. “But Lego wasn’t bothered that he’d given fame the shove, because his trip had taught him that all that counts is love…” This conclusion to the picture story book was just perfect, exactly how we felt about him and he felt about us.

grieving a pet
'The Petlandia books aren’t designed for coping with the grief of a pet that has passed away, but for our family it did just that.' Image: supplied.

The ‘Petlandia’ books can be ordered online through a website that allows you to choose different book options and then personalise the story for a pet dog, cat or rabbit. There are oodles of options of each animal so you can choose one that most resembles your own. You then fill in their name, gender, location and up to two pet owners that can also feature within the story.

Although the Petlandia books aren’t designed for coping with the grief of a pet that has passed away, for our family it did just that and it brought us a sense of joy and laughter at the same time. We will always remember Lego as the beloved family member he was and now we can share this new adventure with him through a picture storybook that we can keep forever.

How have you coped with losing a pet? Tell us in the comments section below.

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