Tilly’s Passing- Saying Goodbye

May 19, 2015
bouquet for Tilly's passing
Her final bouquet.
Tilly’s passing was not sudden. For the past few weeks our head hen Tilly had begun to show her age. She slowed down. Eating, drinking and dust bathing, she spent most of her days napping in the brilliant spring sunshine. She became a bit less talkative but still came when I called her. Two days ago, she enjoyed sitting in my lap and munching on a handful of dried meal worms just for her. When she was little, she had experienced some major crop issues at 10 weeks of age. All these years later, I was grateful to still have her. 
Two nights ago, I noticed that Tilly chose not to roost when turning in for the night. Instead she chose a corner of clean lofty pine shavings away from the flock for her place to sleep. I had a feeling I would not see her again. Somehow, she was telling the flock that it was her time. The following morning, I went out to the coop and noticed that Tilly was not in the run. I peered in the coop through the window. She was laying on the floor.
I mustered up my strength and went inside. She was barely alive. Laying on the floor, calm, peaceful and in a sleep-like state. Her eyes were closed. I spoke to her and gently petted her back. She was warm and soft. Then she lifted her head a bit and opened her eyes to see me. I felt as though she held on to gaze at me one more time. Our eyes met. I could see that she was tired. I lifted her up into my lap and held her. Her breathing was unlabored but slower and less frequent. I stroked her feathers. I told her how much I loved her and that she was free to join her sisters in heaven.  I also thanked her for leading the flock so beautifully all these years.
Tilly's Nest- tilly dragging branch (1)wp
One day she decided to she had to drag this branch all over the yard!
Tilly was an amazing head hen. Everything started on this blog because of her. A little black hen with spunk, spirit, tenacity, and a lust for life. She taught me and my family so many things. We learned that leaders can be firm but loving. She taught us about friendship, loyalty, and to laugh at ourselves now and then. She taught us about patience and kindness. She taught us about being light-hearted and for that we are so grateful.
Tilly's Nest- tilly black australorpwp
I laid her to rest yesterday in the beautiful hosta garden. I placed her in the hole and picked a lovely chicken-sized bouquet of a hosta leaf, Lily of the Valley, grape hyacinth, phlox, and a bit of Russian sage. I placed it on her lifeless body. As the sun shone on her, I could feel the rays of light warming her feathers. It was as if she was taking her last moment to bathe in those glorious warming rays. They were her favorite. I plucked a tiny feather from her wing and tucked it in my pocket. This goodbye was numbing.
I know there are many more little bits of her than just those in my heart. They are in my garden, my children’s memories, and the flock. I can still hear her chicken chatter in my head when I close my eyes. I will continue to “see” Tilly all around me. These are the bits and pieces that touch our hearts. They somehow find their way through our exteriors and change us inside without us even knowing. Changing us for the better. Sometimes its when they are gone that we truly realize the internal metamorphosis that has occurred. This time it was through this sweet little hen named Matilda- Tilly for short.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

 

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Melissa

Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.

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59 thoughts on “Tilly’s Passing- Saying Goodbye”

  1. Oh. I am so sorry to hear this. She was such a sweet hen and was dearly loved. Those little souls should live forever. Sending a hug and I hope all your wonderful memories of Tilly helps your heart to heal. Hugs, Deb

    Reply
    • I am so sorry about your chicken. We used to have a dark brahma chicken named Tilly. She was a rescue. When we got her she had no tail feathers and my uncle wanted to call her Tushy. Then on August 2, 2014 I walked around the corner of my house and underneath the walnut tree all I could see were feathers. Her feathers. A bobcat got her and dragged her over the fence and to the river. I know exactly how you feel about losing a chicken.

      Reply
  2. This is such a lovely post and tribute to your beloved hen Tilly. It brought a lump into my throat and tears to my eyes.
    Our pets, no matter the kind, bring us such joy and unconditional love. Feeling sad for your loss Melissa.

    Reply
  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how difficult it was to write this post as I could barely ready it for the tears in my eyes. May Matilda's memories continue to warm your hearts. Rest in peace Tilly.

    Melissa Leach in NC

    Reply
  4. I am so sorry for your loss and wanted to say the tribute to Tilly was amazing. I had to wait a few minutes so I could see to type. She was a beautiful bird and has crossed the Rainbow Bridge to scratch and peck with her friends. No more pain…God Bless.

    Reply
  5. Thank you so much for sharing with us the passing of your beloved Tilly. Many of us understand your feelings and emotions over your loss and I too have experienced the intense emotion generated when a dying hen gives you that last loving look. Sending our love to you and hope all our expressions of sympathy help you.
    Love Sue (UK)

    Reply
  6. Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved Tilly. It never ceases to amaze me the love and tenderness these wonderful creatures evoke in our hearts. Your tribute to Tilly was lovely, it touched me deeply. Rest in peace sweet girl.

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  7. I am heart broken I feel as if I lost one of my own . I am so very sorry for your loss. She knows she was very loved .
    Rest in peace sweet Tilly

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  8. Oh, this is the hardest part of loving them…I am in tears for you. What an impact Tilly had on us all. Praying for you and your family. Cristinia

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  9. I have tears in my eyes right now while typing this. I am so very sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to Tilly and I know you will remember her for the rest of your life. It's heart wrenching when it gets to the point of telling them it's ok to join their sisters in heaven, but it is the kindest thing to do. Sounds like her passing was peaceful and for that I am thankful. You will be in my thoughts, friend.

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  10. I'm a mess after reading this. I knew what was coming, as you did, and I dreaded it for you. I also know that your heart will heal and you will soon smile when you think of her. You are the finest chicken momma I know of. They sure are lucky they got to have you.

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  11. Goodbye sweet, Tilly. There is no doubt in my mind she is with her sister flock in chicken heaven. She was a beautiful " girl". She looks a lot like my Liza Jane who I also lost last year. I know your sadness well. My girls and I send you love and healing and wish you many more moments with Tilly, in spirit. Hugs, to you my friend.
    Deb

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  12. ~ RIP Dear Sweet Tilly ~ Our little ones are never with us long enough. Tilly's Nest played a huge part in me getting a flock of my own and I will always treasure that. Thank you for sharing the life of your special little girl with us. Sending you healing prayers and loving thoughts. Pam

    Reply
  13. Aww..your tribute brought a tear to my eyes. I too, have chickens, and know the hardship of losing those that hold a special place in our hearts. Today I had to bury a little gray polish chick, given to me for my Mother's Day present. I don't know why she died, as she had been doing well, along with her black sister. I didn't have her long, but she was so sweet and soft, and it seemed cruel to put her in the cold, wet ground. If it is okay with you, I want to name her little black sister, Tilly, in honor of your sweet chicken. Your Tilly will live on in our little Polish chick – whom I hope grows up strong and sweet, as your wonderful hen did.

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  14. Oh, I'm so sad to hear about your sweet Tilly. I had tears dropping down my face as I read your story. Thank God for the good memories we have of all those we have loved, from people to critters. Life just wouldn't be the same without them.

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  15. Wow! I can't believe it. Yours has been a blog I've followed from my first learning of blogs. I am truly sad she is gone. But at least the passing was peaceful.
    RIP Tilly

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  16. You have my condolences and my tears. Tilly was a wonderful hen, from all I have read, and although you miss her greatly she lives on in you and in your surroundings. She reminds me of my special head hen, Dorothy. Dorothy is still young and with me but she is very special. Your Tilly was special too. God bless!

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  17. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to Tilly was beautiful. I know you will miss her dearly, So thankful that you have all the wonderful memories. The loss of any loved one ( human or animal) hurts, but not loving deeply would be so sad. Bless you and your family.

    Reply
  18. I am so sorry for your loss of Tilly. I have only had my three girls for 3 months but already they have a special place in my heart and I can only imagine how I will feel someday when their time to rest has come. She looks like an amazing lady. Thank you for sharing her with us and for sharing her last day with us too. May the sun continue to shine on her resting place and may you find comfort always in your memories.

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  19. Moving and poignant sentiment. May the four winds blow you safely home, Tilly, and may those who remain treasure peaceful memories.

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  20. RIP Tilly. I lost my oldest and most favorite hen of 18 years. I still have not posted or written about her and it's been a few months. I have lost many others over the last 18 years but she was my favorite and most special. I understand the grief but the circle of life continues. I too have 18 new chicks, one for each year of her.

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  21. Oh, I'm just reading this now. So sorry to hear the sad news about Tilly. If you had told me 4 years ago, when I got my first set of chicks, the impact that they would have on my I would have told you you're crazy. It's amazing how these silly hens find a way into your heart, especially one as loved as Tilly.

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  22. What a beautiful tribute to your Tilly.The special creatures that come into out lives do leave quite an imprint on who we are & what we become when we take the time to learn from them. Tilly had a wonderful life with you & your family and I can think of no kinder way for her to pass away than to quietly wind down her clock & spend her last moments in your gentle embrace. I am sure that even a hen can appreciate the kindness & compassion you gave to her in her final moments. Every life has lessons to teach & we are never the same once we take the time to get to know each creatures unique personality & attributes. I'm sure Tilly will be missed for some time to come.

    Reply
  23. I just read the eulogy for Tilly. I’m new to your blog, but I just wanted to let you know how sorry I am for your loss. She , obviously, was a very special part of your life, and family. I have lost birds too. It’s never easy to say farewell. Your beautiful tribute to her is very powerful, and is something I will remember for a long while. They never really leave us, we just can’t see them with our eyes. Our hearts see them everywhere.
    Affectionately,
    Margaret

    Reply
    • Thank you Margaret. I really appreciate your kind words. I know she is with me everyday. I like to think that one day I will see her again. I am so glad you can relate and so happy to have you as a part of the blog.

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  24. I stumbled across this blog while searching through Pinterest and just read this entry… I am bawling! I just lost a hen in this exact manner- she held on until I was able to be there- as soon as I held her she took her last breath. I also lost my great turkey, whom I rescued from a hoarding situation , he was an amazing intelligent creature and we had such a bond. He passed pretty traumatically about 4 weeks ago. So I know how hard it is. No matter the species, they are all my kids. Rip Tilly.

    Reply
    • I am so sorry for your loss Leanne. We are lucky that we are those types of people that love our animals so much. I am so sorry for the loss of your hen and also the loss of your turkey. RIP to both of them. Sending you a big hug! XO

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  25. Sorry to hear of your loss. It will be a year ago. I was reading an article and bumped into your good bye. The day after Valentines I lost my beloved chick Ramona, and your post helped me greatly. My chick was sweet with me, and firm with her sisters. I miss her much butvI know she was ready to go.

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    • I am so sorry to learn of your loss too. It is never easy and I am glad that I can help others say goodbye to their well-loved chickens. I know one day I will see all my chickens across the rainbow bridge again. I try to take comfort in that. Some days I still swear I can hear them. Maybe those are the whispers of chicken angels. Big hugs!

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  26. I just came upon your site and I read your story of Tilly. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. On December 27, 2015, I lost my duck Bot Bot. He was born with one eye and he was partially blind in it. He stayed in the house and not only was he my duckie, he was my baby boy. I miss him so much. My life will never be the same without him, but I am so thankful that God allowed me to have him in my life for the time that he gave us.

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    • I am so very sorry for your loss too. I tell you I can never replace the piece of my heart that she took with her when she passed. I still hear her somedays. Thank you for sharing Bot Bot with me. Perhaps we can take comfort knowing that maybe they both have become friends in heaven. Our guardian angels looking down on us. Sending you a big hug! XO

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      • Thank you! I hear him some days as well, just talking away…..Every night before I would go to bed, I would give him a kiss, tell him i loved him, and see him in the morning. I miss that so much……I have a picture of him on my night stand and each night before I close my eyes, I look over whisper to him that I love him and miss him so terribly much…..I can picture him bobbing his head up and down, and talking away…..it just hurts that i can’t hold him and give him duckie kisses….. But like you, i know that we will see our sweet angles again and what a joyful day it will be.

  27. This brought a tear to my eye. Deaths of pets can be just as hard of relatives I found out from a young age. My first chicken died when I was about 10 because a rat got too her and I was crying for a whole week. Mushroom my recent quail died about a year ago from old age and you start to miss them only when they’re gone. Regret is stronger than gratitude. Mushroom was the best little pet I could ever have and after she was gone you realize these little things that use to cheer you up such as seeing their little happy faces in the morning. It’s my worse loss. Worse than chickens. Mushroom will forever be in my heart and call me crazy but I luckily took upon photography at the time and have a lovely canvas and picture of mushroom in a frame.

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  28. I’m so sorry for your loss. I have a little barred rock named Gidget that has Tilly’s personality and I would be heartbroken if I lost her. I love the way she sqawks at me when she sees me. She’s always the first one out in the morning. May Tilly forever Rest In Peace. We love you Tilly.

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  29. My beloved Buff Orpington Joy passed yesterday. She was the happiest and sweetest hen in my flock, which is how she got her name. The last thing she did was dust bathe with her sisters. We found her in the run, laying in the sunshine. When we wrapped her in a soft towel and set her in a box, her 4 sisters gathered around the box and chirped quietly. I am 99% sure they knew what had happened. I am sorry you lost Tilly. RIP sweet girl.

    Reply

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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.