Death is never easy. It is an unfortunate part of life but part of the bigger circle of our natural existence. I believe that everything enters our lives for a reason. Everything also exits our lives for reasons too, sometimes reasons that we don’t ever understand. It is even hard to understand the timing of things. Everyone grieves over loss differently, I have seen many ways of coping working with patients and their families over the past 17 years. Yet, it doesn’t make thing easier when these things happen to you.
The flock and other people’s flocks continually teach and remind me of life’s lessons. Yes, even when it comes to loss and death. I think this is a time when the flock’s lessons runs the deepest.
The flock realizes when a member is going to pass and allows them to go off and find a quiet place away from the rest of their family. Once it becomes clear to the flock that they will be losing a member of their family from death, they each take their time to say their goodbyes. One by one, I have witnessed them communicate through their verbalization, hearts and bodies. They take their time, some longer than others. However, once this is done, they do not turn back. The rest forge ahead, choosing to let this member of the flock pass into their memories.
They do remember the missing family member and sometimes for a few days to weeks will call out to them, reminding them that they are here. It is as if they cannot locate the missing member. They are calling them home. This is especially true if this chicken was well revered in the flock. I think this is part of their grieving process. We too yearn for those we miss.
I have witnessed when a flock member passes, they chose to only temporarily mourn the loss and instead celebrate the remaining members of the flock. They celebrate their love and relationships that are in the present. It seems to bring them closer. Suffering a loss does not mean that the chickens didn’t love their flock member. It doesn’t mean that they are forgetting them. It doesn’t mean that they do not care or that that chicken’s existence did not matter. I think that they realize that life is not about living in the past, it is about embracing the future and not forgetting those that have touched their lives. Each day yields new beginnings, new experiences, new friendships and family members. Life is continually evolving and changing and somehow, the flock takes everything in stride.
We all grieve differently and our lives are much more complex than our feathered friends, yet their reminders still ring true. I am terrible at goodbyes. I still think about those family members that we have had to say goodbye to; Peanut, Chocolate, Percy Peepers and Dottie Speckles. To this day their memory drifts into my thoughts. I guess it just means that I loved them. They touched my heart. Perhaps today, as I spend time with the flock and share treats with the girls, we will “toast” to their memory. It just seems like the right thing to do. I don’t think the flock would want it any other way.