My daughter's first pet died a few weeks ago. It was a Betta, or Siamese Fighting, fish. His name was Freddy.
It's the sort of thing that comes up in sitcoms now and then. I'm sure you've seen it. The pet dies. The family's not sure how to talk about death with their child and are tempted to avoid the difficult conversation by replacing the critter with a look-alike. I had the same temptation myself; fish have many doppelgängers. (You can quote me on that.)
At one point, my wife and I start to explain to my daughter just why the fish wasn't swimming. I started to get a bit teary-eyed, manly fellow that I am, as we explained that Freddy was dead and wouldn’t be around anymore.
But my daughter didn’t cry. She just turned her head, thought for a moment and asked, “Can we get a new one?”
“Sure, sweetie, sure. We can get a new one.”
Whew! Off the (fish) hook for now, but I know that conversation will come around again before we know it and under more difficult circumstances. Time to start learning how to boil the answers to the big questions down into pre-schooler-size pieces.