My son previously lost a goldfish after a couple of weeks of ownership, and he still does the lip quiver and tears when "Shark" the goldfish is mentioned. That was our first experience teaching Jacob about death, and now the subject has come up again with his beloved Nemo. Jacob is taking it a little better this time, because he has a better understanding of how this works: we all have a time to be born and receive a body, and we all have a time to die and return to our Heavenly Father. It's all part of a plan. Even so, Jacob is sad, and we know that when someone dies (even a little someone with gills), we feel sad because we miss them. But we have hope that all is well for them, and there is the possibility of a joyful reunion someday.
The grief over losing a fish is not the same as the grief over losing a human member of the family. The latter carries a much heavier weight. But without trivializing it, the basic concept is the same: it's part of a plan, it happens to all of us, it is worthy of grief because we value life and love, and there is ultimate hope for better things as the plan comes to its full unfolding.
I got a copy of a beautiful poem from a dear friend. I don't exactly hear Nemo the fish blub-blubbing these words, but it's so awesome that I have to share:
Death is Nothing At All
by Henry Scott Holland
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed,
At the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort,
Without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you for an interval,
Somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well.