My seven year old daughter lost her beloved pet hamster last week.
I’d been bracing myself for the moment – I could tell it had been unwell – and I knew her sensitive heart would experience it’s first pang of grief.
Sure enough, upon grim discovery of his death, her sorrow was swift and fierce. As I held her little body shaking with sobs, I thought about how easy it would be to be dismissive, if I chose to meet her grief with logic.
“It was just a hamster.”
“We can buy another one.”
“It’s better he didn’t suffer.”
The thing is, grief doesn’t understand logic because death and sorrow are illogical things, inconceivable to our eternal souls. Grief needs comfort, a safe place to swell and break.
It was all true – it was just a hamster, we can buy another one and it’s better the poor creature didn’t suffer – but I didn’t say any of those things to her. Instead, I told her that God, in all His incommunicable greatness and omniscient power, chooses to include the tiniest critters, the littlest heartbreaks into the span of His care. I reminded her of the sparrows.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore. You are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31
There is no sparrow, no hamster, no ache to small that it goes unnoticed by the Creator. The Creator who does not take our grief and explain it away or diminish it down but stays close by, tender and full of compassion. He remembers we are dust.
She asked me what happens when a pet dies. Where do they go? It was a beautiful invitation to explain to her resurrection power – how man is set apart for a glorious eternity because we alone are image bearers with souls intended for heaven. She liked the idea that death for us is not forever. It helped soothe the part of grief that feels so much like fear.
We found a little box together and lined it with bedding and laid her tiny friend to rest by the chestnut tree in the backyard. My little lover of everything that lives, wept as she packed the earth down, filling in the hole with fresh soil.
A warm summer wind stirred the air above us, a reminder that life outside of death continues to move.
“I want Hammy to still be here.”
“I know,” I said quietly.
I thought about how we sometimes sing that Sunday school song “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” What a concept! The God of the universe, wrapping the whole sphere upon which we turn in His hands. Nothing unseen, nothing missed, nothing too small to escape His notice.
He’s got every falling sparrows in His hands.
He’s got the itty bitty hamsters in His hands.
He’s got the little grieving daughters in His hands.
He’s got whatever breaks your heart, no matter how small, in His hands.
He’s got the whole world in His hands.
About The Author
Busy mom of two sweet girls and two rambunctious boys, I reside in southern Ontario with my husband. In between flipping houses, our travels to the east coast where I grew up and raising our small family for God’s glory, we have our hands utterly full and would have it no other way! More of my writing can be found following me on Instagram: @annalynneredbone; Facebook: Anna Lynne Redekop