Sunday, 9 September 2012

RIP - Greg the Fish

Today, Lily discovered that Greg, her recently acquired Siamese Fighting Fish, was no longer with us. She informed me rather matter-of-factly this morning,

 'Mummy, today I checked on my fish and he is dead. He is not swimming or eating, he's just lying there like this - (demonstration) - dead.'
'Ohh, that is sad! Do you want a cuddle?'. 
She looked at me bemused - 'Mummy, I'm ok, there's nothing wrong with me, it's the fish that's dead!'

Oh, well OK, then!!

This was her first experience of death, so I wasn't too sure how she would take it. Although she was thrilled with her fish as a birthday present and loved to feed him and introduce him to friends, I didn't know how completely in love she was. Exemplified by the fact that a couple of weeks ago she had come up to me and casually said 'Mummy, when Greg dies, can I have a guinea pig for a pet?'


Now, I realise if this was Law and Order: Fisheries Investigation Unit she would be getting hauled in for questioning right now, but I'm pretty sure his circumstances of death were not suspicious. Possibly our cold temperatures got too much for the tropical little fellow?? I guess we will never know. :(

Anyway, we discussed what we should do now and I suggested burying him in the garden and saying goodbye. The garden? But he can't walk around out there! She has no experience of death, burying, funerals, etc, so I explained the idea of burying him in the garden, that we could say goodbye to him and put some flowers there and she liked that idea so out we trooped to conduct the ceremony.

It was funny to see her process it. Being four, she flicked between being fairly non-plussed by the loss of her first pet, to distracted by the flowers and what was for dinner, to being quite sad and teary (I thought my fish was going to live forever! When is he coming out of the ground? I don't want him to be dead! I think I was cleaning my room too much and didn't feed him enough!?).

Together we dug the hole, laid Greg the Fish to rest, and covered him up. Lily then put some flowers on top.

Helping pat down the dirt,

Laying some flowers on the fishie grave. 

Fishie Gravesite

And that... was pretty much that. We had said a brief goodbye to Lily's first pet as she didn't want the full speeches and so on that Mark and I were prepared to orchestrate!. So then the kids jumped on the trampoline for a while. A fitting celebration of life I suppose??

We did capture this moment of grief from Eli which Mark insisted I document! He is wailing in sorrow - though I'm not sure how much he actually comprehended the loss of Greg. May have had something to do with his cold and ear infection... or perhaps the fact I wouldn't let him put his hand in the fish bowl to touch the murky stones!

'Piiiish! Piiiiish! Pish Gooone!!' 

So, life continues on....

Bye Greg, and thanks for being our very first family pet! 


  1. This is BRILLIANT! Me and Ville are just laughing out loud :-) I love what she says and even the howling is funny somehow as it is probably quite unrelated (hope he is back to full health soon though). Wonderful post.

    1. :) thanks Julia, yeah Mark and I had to work pretty hard to keep a straight face through some of it too! kids are so funny how they interpret things. it was an interesting introduction to the concept of death and all up glad it wasnt too traumatic!

  2. Oh my, Eli's outpouring of sorrow :-) Sorry for your loss!

  3. We had guinea pigs as our first pet... and yes, when they died (dog got in their cage and must have bit them or plain scared them to death) we had to have a burial and say goodbye. We then had a fish too... which lasted about a year and a half before my lack of cleaning motivation led him to get some eye bulge condition and he went blind (not being able to see his food made him starve, poor thing)... now my girls are talking about their next pet.. could it be a bird?? I still have random teary days from my 7yo about missing her fish (he died about 8 months ago)

    1. aw sorry about your pets! yes Lily pretty quickly moved on to 'what pet is next' - no mourning period?! sounds like your 7yo was pretty attached to her fish tho, poor girl!

  4. Oh no poor Greg :( Poor Eli!
    We have a tank of guppies and lose one from time to time. It's been great actually, helping T to get his idea around the idea of death, without him having to experience the grief of losing a pet he's really close to. We lost a fish a few months ago and after we'd had a chat about death and disposed of him Thomas cheerfully predicted "I think.... Flamenco (one of the fish) is going to die next! (He was right too.)

    1. yes you are right Tarnya, I think the loss of a fish is a gentler introduction to the concept of death than something cuddly and close like a puppy or rabbit! oh thomas, dear boy, predicting which fish will go next ;)

  5. I was also four when I lost my first pet: a goldfish, aptly named Goldie (what can I say? I was not exactly the most creative or imaginative child!).Unlike Lily, I fed him too much; hence his doom. It was heart-wrenching. As my mom flushed him down the toilet, I cried and said, "If God can bring Jesus back to life, he can raise Goldie from the dead, too. Can I keep his bowl in my room for when he comes back?"

    Goldie is interred in my old backyard, next to Willy the snake, Rex the turtle, Scooch and Patch the gerbils, and Fluffernut the rabbit.

    I was unaware that my track record with animals was so marred with untimely deaths.

    1. lol, Kim, that is quite a record!!! i am SURE they were all natural causes - hmm except overfeeding i guess but that is hard for an eager young kid! :) permamant loss is such a hard concept for a kid to understand. wonder what HG's first pet will be?!

  6. I know death isn't meant to be comical, but you have to admit this kinda was (well your writing at least ;) ) I think it sums up how children can move so quickly from heartache to disinterest, and then back again so well!
    RIP little fishie Greg. x

  7. .....and Eli - he looks like he is really going through a traumatic moment right there :( Poor bub.


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