Tell Her The Bunnies Died: Why We Say The Things We Say

As some of you might know from reading this blog, when I’m not a desk-jokey with an enviable title, I can usually be found combating the lack of lucrative(ness) that this enviable titled job has bestowed on me by working in retail.

Otherwise known as, when you’re relaxing from a typical 40-hour work week, I’m greeting people, conjuring up small talk and coercing them into leaving a store with something they didn’t know they needed.

Nevertheless, it has it’s perks and one of them is seizing the opportunity to meet and talk to a large amount of people from all over the world in a somewhat controlled environment.

“Where’s your bike?” I asked the little girl wearing the pink helmet as I tried successfully to engage them with my world-class small talk.

Her parents then said, “It’s not a bike helmet. It’s a riding helmet.”

“I should have known!”

And in a whisper they said, “Yeah..well…We think the horse might be D-E-A-D.”

“That’s awful. What are you going to tell her?”

“I don’t think we are….”

“Yeah…I don’t think I would either. Shelter them as long as we can, right?”

“That’s exactly right.”

Nearly twenty years earlier, that situation played out similarly.

My childhood home was knee deep in a serious outdoor renovation. In other words, my yard fell down an embankment, and being the handyman that my dad was, he decided to do the work himself even though it took more than half the summer. The project would be called, “The Wall” and during the upheaval, my dad found a family of bunnies left abandoned by their mother who was likely and unintentionally scared off during the madness.

Keeping in mind that this was long before people had the ability to google “caring for baby bunnies.” Instead, we were essentially on our own and being the caring people that we were, we tried to save them by keeping them warm and feeding them with an eyedropper. However much to our heartbreak, 48 hours later, the bunnies died.

My mom wanted to say that they ran away.

My dad said that they couldn’t do that. They had to tell me the truth as to what happened.

My dad won.

Instead of saying that the bunnies ran away, he told me they died. (While also adding, “Your mom wanted to say that they ran away, but I insisted that we tell you the truth.” (Sorry Mom)).

Both stories are similar. Both show two different ways of handling a situation, with neither of them being necessarily right or wrong, even though people may perceive them as such.

Yet regardless of what decision is made, there’s a discussion. At some point there is a talk of “What will we tell the children?” We need to discuss, weight options, think about what’s best for them.

But before I give the reason as to why I bring up these two stories, I want to ask, What would you do? What would you say? What thought process would go in to making that choice?

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J is a happily single 30-something currently documenting her stories of love and loss. Her blog, “I Quit Dating” features excerpts of her journey as she reflects on the lessons learned from the men she loved. A complete collection of essays detailing her walk away from finding Mr. Right in order to pursue a more fulfilled life will be self-published next year. She recently moved from Los Angeles to New York. Contact: iquitdating (@)

9 thoughts on “Tell Her The Bunnies Died: Why We Say The Things We Say”

  1. I think I would tell the truth. Although children should be cared for dearly, lying to them is pointless and only makes them believe this world is a fairy tale and nothing wrong can happen to anyone. Which we all know is far from the truth. So, even though it hurts, letting children know about the bad things that happen in life I think is essential for a normal upbringing.


  2. Not a mom, but I’m all about the truth. Natural and logical consequences. I don’t know if I would just say straight up “the bunnies are dead” but I would explain why that potentially happened and how the bunnies needed their real Mom etc. Plus, you tried your best 🙂
    – J


  3. I’m not sure what I would do, I think it would depend on the age of the child involved. Although you do want to shelter them to some things, maybe introducing the idea of death almost when you are too young to understand will mean you accept it as part of life? Which is something I have never been able to done, and at my age the idea of dying can bring on a panic attack!


  4. I really try to tell them the truth (except when their dad is being a complete asshole because I don’t think it’s in their interests, they’ll work that out for themselves) everything else though, they know. It’s the delivery that you have to be careful with, they have to know that we’re not infallible and that things go wrong in the world, but I’m careful with timing they have things going on in their lives too. Good topic.


  5. As a mother, you do want to shelter and protect your son/daughter from tragedy. I’m a firm believer in telling the truth even if it does break their heart. Secrets, or omitting the truth only hinders them in the future.


    1. Even though I’m not a mother, I do see and agree where you are coming from. In a way I think you can still shelter them with the truth which in the end can be better for them. I hope you’ll stick around as I talk more about why I brought up these stories. Thanks so much for reading and for commenting.


  6. We have always been honest with our son, now since his Mom passed it’s more important than ever to be truthful with him (he is 13) , we were always very open and honest with him, why lie? why shelter them? being honest helps prepare them for the real world when they grow up, too many kids are raised with lies, half truth’s lies by omission, and grow up thinking the world is a safe place full of happiness rainbows and unicorns, they go into utter shock when faced with reality once they are old enough to be on their own, and are not capable of dealing with the real world issues and problems, which is why almost every second person is now in some form of therapy now a days, Truth people!! tell your kids the truth!! you will have a happier more balanced kid and future adult who can deal with the world.


    1. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing that. I have to agree on many of the points that you made here. I also think honest kids have a better chance of being honest adults. I hope you’ll stay tuned as to why I brought up these two stories. Thanks again for reading and commenting.


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