Death is definitely the most difficult topic of conversation with kids. I mean, it's still difficult for me and I'm a grown up... but with little ones? When they're just starting out in their lives and they can't wrap their heads around how many hours there are in their days, and then you have to explain that death means someone or something is gone forever? I don't know many parents who love opening up that can of worms, and famous parents are no different. In fact, Kim Kardashian's reaction to the death of North's hamster will look familiar to any parent who has had to explain a dead pet to their child. Because breaking your kid's heart is the absolute worst.
In a sneak peek of this Sunday's episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the mom of four is having a chat with her sister Khloé Kardashian on the phone when her assistant Michael comes in to give her some bad news. It seems the hamster named Blacktail appeared to be laying stiff in his very fancy hamster cage not moving.
As soon as Kim's assistant told her, the Selfish author did the same thing so many of us do when we are thrust into a bad situation: denial. "He's probably just sleeping," she said when she followed him to have a look. Blacktail was, sadly, not just sleeping.
The pair establish Blacktail had indeed passed away by carefully poking it with a pen, at which point Kim starts to panic about how she is going to break the news to her 6-year-old daughter, North (who was thankfully at school at the time).
As she says to Khloé, "I don’t know how I’m going to say, ‘By the way, your hamster died. This is like the first time she’s, like, really, really, really loved an animal more than her dog. She’s still into it. And I don’t know what to do."
In the middle of her panic about how to break the news to North, Kim seems to remember why they have a hamster in the first place: Khloé bought her niece a hamster on a girl's day without asking her mother's permission. In a tweet on May 26, she told her followers, "I can’t believe Khloe let North talk her into getting a hamster."
Remembering this, in the moment, Kim couldn't help saying to her sister in frustration, "This is why you don’t get someone a pet. Don’t ever do this to me again. I literally hate you."
However little Blacktail made his way into the Kardashian-West household, the fact of the matter is Kim now has a tough talk on her hands: Trying to explain the hamster's death to her daughter.
If you're ever in a situation like Kim, according to research from Michigan State University, there are a few tips parents might want to follow to ease the pain of this conversation a little for kids who might be very confused and upset by this passing.
- Pick the right time. Not as they are going to sleep for the night or as soon as they walk in from school if you can avoid it since these tend to be times when kids' emotions are already heightened.
- Be clear with them. Don't sugarcoat the death of the pet, simply explain in plain language that the pet's "body just isn't working any more," for example.
- Read a book that relates to the subject together. The university recommends the story Goodbye Mousie by Robie H. Harris as it tells the tale of a boy who finds out his mouse is gone but finds ways to pay tribute to his pet.
- Honor their feelings. Don't make them feel as though they have to be less upset or even more upset than they are. Follow their lead.
- Memorialize the pet. Whether that's with a funeral, a special box of memories, or whatever else you and your child come up with. Give them a chance to say a formal goodbye.
Here's hoping Kim finds a way to talk to North. And maybe also a way to forgive her sister for putting her in this situation.