Yesterday, Simon saw a photo of Gideon, our recently deceased cat, on the TV screensaver. He responded that he missed him, and we had to explain that he was dead. A very emotional meltdown occurred.
Here's the thing, I'm not opposed to talking to my kid about death, what people believe or anything of that nature. He knew that Gideon was dying as the tumor grew, finding it harder to get around on his gimpy leg. But what we told him the day he died, before he went to school, was that he was going to stay with the vet because they could take better care of him until he died. I don't think that this is unreasonable, because while talking about death and the circle of life is something I want him to understand and learn to deal with, I can barely reconcile euthanasia myself, let alone explain it to an 8-year-old with ASD. All I need is for a kid who takes everything literally to think that maybe he, or one of us, won't come home from the doctor's office one day.
It is a strange practice, this practice of killing our pets, even if I do accept the moral premise of it. I mean, we also eat animals to survive, so it's not like I can't understand that we necessarily place different values on different forms of life anyway. It's just that pets have personalities and relationships with us, so it's different. If anything, it makes me think that the right-to-die controversy among humans is not nearly as horrible as its opponents make it out to be. The morality doesn't strike me as that different. I've never really thought much about it.
The other two cats are 12 and 16, so I imagine it unlikely that we don't have to say goodbye to another within a year or two. Maybe I'll have some clever way to explain what's really going on by then.