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mittens spoon
My life seems to have no affirming moments at the moment, but I have been cheered up by talking about loss and bereavement with a very sweet friend. Her hamster has just come to the end of its 1000 days and although it was very small – a pygmy hamster in fact – she poured a lot of love into its tiny speckled life and it brought her a lot of joy.

On Friday morning Mittens did not join her for breakfast; he had achieved what we might all hope for one day, and died peaceful and much loved in his sleep of old age. This lovely girlfriend also has a great sense of fun and the ability to see the positive in almost anything, as she showed again when she told me about Mitten’s burial.

It isn’t easy to dispose of a well-loved pet when you live in a small flat in a big city. After spending some of the morning reviewing all the pictures of Mittens in happier times saved on her computer, and crying, she rummaged in the cupboards to find a small disposable container. In the end she emptied a box of tea and put the hamster – wrapped in tissue – in the box, (although she is now concerned that she will never again catch the scent of Earl Grey without feeling sad.)

Then with the box in her shoulder bag – and feeling rather uneasily like a drug smuggler -she took a bus to the park to find a quiet place. At this point she realised that she had nothing to dig with, but a search through the bag uncovered a spoon in her lunchbox (also apparently in the bag with the deceased hamster!) so she dug a grave with the small spoon for her yoghurt and buried the box in the hole.

After sitting quietly for a few minutes she walked away down the path towards the gate, but glancing back she saw a dog already sniffing around the foot of her chosen tree, so she had to run back, shoo the dog away – then apologise to the dog’s owner – before getting out the spoon again and digging the hole much deeper, seeking out a big stone to place on the grave and taking one last photo. Finally, with very dirty hands and a spoon which could never serve yoghurt again, she was able to walk to work.

We laughed a lot while she shared this story with me, which chased away some of the sadness of her loss, and then we planned to go out soon to look at hamsters in a nice pet shop nearby. It made me think about how this girl fills her life with experiences, and also about the importance of finding the positive in a situation in order to gain the strength to move forward. What a special gift it is to be able to find this sunny side – and even more so to be able to share it with the people we care about.

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