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The Funeral

Last week I took Alexander’s hamster out of her cage to put her into the ball (you know the one they use to run around the house). When I picked her up, I noticed that her face was very swollen on one side. I had a moment where I thought maybe I should take her to the vet. And then I forgot.

I should have known something was wrong when she didn’t eat the lettuce I put in her cage Saturday. Sunday we were busy, I assume she was alive.

Monday after school Alexander went to take her out of her cage to play. She did not move. Alexander was holding back tears, I was thinking I never have to clean that cage again. And then I thought, this could be devastating for Alexander.

Mostly though, I panicked because I didn’t want to touch a dead hamster.

Thankfully it was late in the day, and my husband was almost home. Alexander and I talked about Oreo (the hamster) and how we should dispose of her. We decided on a funeral. Which is awesome, if you own a shovel.

Mr. G. came home from work, and was immediately given the duty of hamster funeral preparation. He asked me for a shoebox, and I was like, “uh NO. I need those for my shoes.”

After some poking around the downstairs closets we found a suitable shoebox, and somehow my sweet husband got the hamster in there. He did mention that she looked like she’d been dead more than a day.


We took the shoebox and wrapped it in cellophane so there wouldn’t be an odor and stored Oreo for her funeral the next day.

Tuesday after school Alexander was ready for the funeral. All I had to dig with was a pick axe and a small spade. I dug a hole just large enough for the shoe box (shut up I know!), and Alexander and I took the shoe box out to the flower bed.

“Well, this is it.” I said. Then I asked my son, “Do you have anything you’d like to say?”

“Well, Mom, when we’re done do you think I can get a new pet?” He shyly asked.

“How about we bury Oreo first?”

Then I took the cellophane off her coffin/box and the smell of death attacked me. As quickly as I could I shoved the box in the hole, but realized that the hole really wasn’t big enough. As waves of nausea engulfed me I said to Alexander, “Honey, how about if we just bury her without the box. I think it will work better that way.”

He agreed and I made him turn his back.

With my left hand I popped the top off of the box, and with my right I used the pick axe to quickly cover the bloated smelly hamster. All the while I squinted so that I wouldn’t actually see Oreo. I ran the box and the offending cello to the trash bin and washed up as quickly as I could.

The takeaway?

I could’a thrown the hamster in the neighbor’s trash can and buried an empty box. Next time I will.

9 thoughts on “The Funeral”

  1. ha!

    I have a long story about our cat.. poor thing.. in the end another family (god bless their souls) took the thing.. and though I felt guilty about.. I didn’t feel THAT guilty about it…

    So? What’s the new pet??

  2. I bet you’ll do it the exact same way the next time — says the woman who hosted a funeral for a cat we cared so little for that we named him “Any Kitty”. We buried him in a hat and a pair of wooden clogs. Don’t ask.

  3. Our hamster died of what sounds like the same thing… an abscess in the mouth. The little buggers shove all that food in there, and sometimes something scratches or pokes and ends up infected. Our boys wanted to look at it for a long time, but they accepted death pretty well. I guess because we already had a dead turtle. Or 2. But I’d rather not talk about that…

  4. You know I love you, but please don’t get another pet. Not having time to check on an animal that is sick and could be suffering isn’t funny, and the takeaway that animals are disposable isn’t a great lesson.

  5. We buried our cat in the back yard, in a shoebox. To this day I wonder if any of the residents of that house since then ever “discovered” the grave. Since it was unmarked. And shallow. Without time to process his full range of feelings, Alexander won’t have this opportunity to learn important life lessons. Wait for the new pet.

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