Losing a pet is difficult for the entire family, and Mary Architzel Westbrook from Norfolk, Virginia, knows that as well as anyone else. Since her family’s beloved beagle, Moe, passed away in April, Westbrook has been helping her 3-year-old son Luke deal with the loss by writing occasional letters to the dog in heaven.
In a recent essay she submitted to Distinction Magazine, Westbrook explains that she sits at the kitchen table with Luke and begins the process of writing a letter to the dog she owned for 13 years. Luke tells her what he wants to say, and she writes it down for him. They slip the message into an envelope and address it to “Moe Westbrook, Doggie Heaven, Cloud 1.” Though they stick the card in the mailbox, Westbrook retrieves it each night before the postal worker arrives – or at least she did, until one night when she forgot about it.
A message from Doggie Heaven
A couple weeks after forgetting to retrieve the message, Westbrook discovered an unstamped letter in her mailbox with the return address reading “From Moe.” The note read:
“I’m in doggie heaven. I play all day. I am happy. Thank you 4 being my friend. I wuv you Luke.”
Luke was overjoyed to receive a response from his buddy Moe, and Westbrook was astonished at the kindness shown to her family by the local postal worker who’d written the note. She wrote in the essay, “Receiving the note reminded me of the goodness of people and just how big a small gesture can really be.”
Do you know someone who has lost a pet?
The Westbrook family’s story is enough to pull at anyone’s heartstrings, and it shows how truly impactful a handwritten message can be. Everyone has different ways of coping with a loss, and you can play a big role in helping someone through the grieving process.
As Luke demonstrated with his frequent letters, kids still want to feel that connection with a beloved pet even after their furry friend is gone. Whether your own child lost a dog or you know a little one who is going through this loss, consider framing a photo of the pair. The child will love being able to see his friend every day, even if it’s just through a picture frame.
Additionally, take the time to send the family a sympathy card. Just like the letter from Moe brought so much joy to the Westbrook family, your kind words can also help loved ones get through a hard time.