Advertisement

Experiences of Pet Death in Childhood Memories

  • Nora SchuurmanEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)

Abstract

Studying relationships with animals in childhood illustrates cultural conceptions of animals as well as those about children and childhood. Similarly, childhood experiences related to animal death demonstrate associated rituals, practices, and conceptions. This chapter scrutinizes the memories of animal death in childhood, based on data comprising narratives collected in a nationwide writing collection on human–pet relations in Finland. The data used includes the authors’ memories of animal death in childhood. Theoretically, the study draws on recent studies about childhood and about human–animal relations, with a relational viewpoint that emphasizes emotions and embodiment.

The study suggests that there are special meanings involved in relations with animals in childhood, and these are epitomized in the experiences of animal death. The memories analyzed illustrate the position of animals as friends and family members already before pet keeping became a central part of home and family. Animal companions have been lost and killed, buried, and mourned, and their death is frequently contextualized in the experiences of growing up. In the childhood memories analyzed in this study, the human–animal boundary does not appear clear-cut, but instead, mourning the loss of an animal bears similarities to mourning the death of a human. However, grief for a dead animal has been culturally forbidden, which is seen in parents’ relative silence and the challenges faced in communicating the grief between parents and children.

Keywords

Childhood Death Emotions Finland Human–animal relations Memory Pets 

References

  1. Acampora, R. R. (2001). Real animals? An inquiry on behalf of relational zoöntology. Human Ecology Review, 8(2), 73–78.Google Scholar
  2. Bauman, Z. (1992). Mortality, immortality and other life strategies. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Charles, N. (2014). ‘Animals just love you as you are’: Experiencing kinship across the species barrier. Sociology, 48(4), 715–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Charles, N., & Davies, C. A. (2011). My family and other animals: Pets as kin. In B. Carter & N. Charles (Eds.), Human and other animals: Critical perspectives (pp. 69–92). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cunningham, H. (2013). The invention of childhood. London, England: BBC Books.Google Scholar
  6. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  7. Haraway, D. (2008). When species meet. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  8. Howarth, G. (2007). The rebirth of death: Continuing relationships with the dead. In M. Mitchell (Ed.), Remember me: Constructing immortality – Beliefs on immortality, life, and death (pp. 19–34). London, England: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Jones, O. (2003). ‘Endlessly revisited and forever gone’: On memory, reverie and emotional imagination in doing children’s geographies. An ‘addendum’ to ‘“to go back up the side hill”: Memories, imaginations and reveries of childhood’ by Chris Philo. Children’s Geographies, 1(1), 25–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jones, O. (2008). ‘True geography [.] quickly forgotten, giving away to an adult-imagined universe’. Approaching the otherness of childhood. Children’s Geographies, 6(2), 195–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kean, H. (2013). Human and animal space in historic ‘pet’ cemeteries in London, New York and Paris. In J. Johnston & F. Probyn-Rapsey (Eds.), Animal death (pp. 21–42). Sydney, Australia: University of Sydney Press.Google Scholar
  12. Latvala, P., & Laurén, K. (2013). The sensitive interpretation of emotions: Methodological perspectives on studying meanings in oral history texts. In Frog, & P. Latvala (Eds.) with H. F. Leslie, Approaching methodology (pp. 249–266). Helsinki, Finland: Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.Google Scholar
  13. Leach, E. (1964). Anthropological aspects of language: Animal categories and verbal abuse. In E. H. Lenneberg (Ed.), New directions in the study of language (pp. 23–63). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  14. Leinonen, R.-M. (2013). Palvelijasta terapeutiksi. Ihmisen ja hevosen suhteen muuttuvat kulttuuriset mallit Suomessa. Oulu, Finland: Oulun yliopisto.Google Scholar
  15. Marvin, G. (2006). Wild killing: Contesting the animal in hunting. In The Animal Studies Group (Ed.), Killing animals (pp. 10–29). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  16. Morrow, V. (1998). My animals and other family: Children’s perspectives on their relationships with companion animals. Anthrozoös, 11(4), 218–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Redmalm, D. (2015). Pet grief: When is nonhuman life grievable? The Sociological Review, 63(1), 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Russell, J. (2016). I remember everything: Children, companion animals, and a relational pedagogy of remembrance. In M. DeMello (Ed.), Mourning animals: Rituals and practices surrounding animal death (pp. 81–89). East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Smith, S., & Watson, J. (2010). Reading autobiography. A guide for interpreting life narratives (2nd ed.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  20. Taylor, C. (2013). Respect for the (animal) dead. In J. Johnston & F. Probyn-Rapsey (Eds.), Animal death (pp. 85–101). Sydney, Australia: University of Sydney Press.Google Scholar
  21. Thomas, K. (1983). Man and the natural world. Changing attitudes in England 1500–1800. London, England: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  22. Tipper, B. (2011). ‘A dog who I knew quite well’: Everyday relationships between children and animals. Children’s Geographies, 9(2), 145–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Turner, J. H., & Stets, J. E. (2005). The sociology of emotions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wyness, M. (2012). Childhood and society (2nd ed.). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TurkuTurkuFinland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Pauliina Rautio
    • 1
  • Tracy Young
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Swinbourne UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations