Today did not quite work out as planned. We got up and were getting breakfast when I noticed that one of small daughter's fish was lying on its side at the bottom of the tank, and another (the smallest one) couldn't be found. After an emergency trip to Animates to see if there was anything we could do for the sick one, we settled down to wait to see if he would perk up. Unfortunately around midmorning daughter noticed that there was a pebble lying on his eye, so we got the net out and poked him gently and it was obvious that he was dead.
She brought him out of the tank, and then set about painting two memorial rocks with their names and dates on - after careful hunting through the tank by all of us, we are assuming the second one was eaten - and then we had a fishy funeral this afternoon. These fish are small daughter's pets: we gave her the tank as a Christmas present in 2012, our first Christmas in Rotorua, and she has done all of the care of them ever since (with a bit of help from me cleaning the tank). She was really brave while she was painting the memorial stones, and she wanted to dig the grave herself and she buried him, but this evening there were tears.
It's not her first brush with death: my grandmother died last year and daughter saw her in her coffin, but as she said to me today, its the first time she's ever actually seen something close to her die. That change, from being to not-being, is a shock whatever age you are. We talked about life, and death, and grief and grieving, and there were lots of hugs and tears and cuddles. Poor little lassie. Grief is a hard lesson whatever time you learn it, and it doesn't seem to get any easier to learn it again. I think that having two fish on one day was pretty tough too - that's half of her fish gone in one foul swoop.
We also prayed a lot today - not that the pain would go away, but that God would be with her in the pain and the loss. We talked about Jesus knowing pain - both physical and emotional, and she was calmer once we'd prayed together tonight.