Chickens Lessons from the Flock Stories from Our Nest

Fixing a Hole in My Heart

I’ve been trying. I really have.  Grief is a funny thing.  One minute it’s not there and the next minute you find yourself with tears streaming down your face for no particular reason. Like falling leaves, the tears just simply come when you are walking out the mailbox, cooking dinner, spending time with loved ones. They just come. I guess you could say I have been heartbroken. As I looks back, I was lucky. It took me many years until I had to experience this deep kind of grief. I thought that I knew grief from so many years of helping others through it in my nursing career, saying goodbye to loved ones, grandparents, aunts, uncles and favorite pets. For the first time, I can honestly say that I have a hole in my heart.

I didn’t know how big that hole actually was until it tried to swallow me up and landed me in the hospital for couple of days a few weeks ago. You see, I did learn that you can actually have something called broken heart syndrome. Some pass away from it and others recover fully.  The cure is time, rest and taking care of yourself. I had been neglecting me trying to focus on those around me grieving.

The other day I cleaned out the chicken coop.  Sadly, the poor girls had been less than pampered. I even thought for a moment that they had forgotten my name. It had been so long since I had really listened to them. We went away for Thanksgiving. For the past 25 years, Thanksgiving was a home holiday. It was a favorite of my Step-Dad’s. No one else was allowed to make the turkey for fear of some fatal-kind of mistake would ruin the turkey and the day completely. God how I missed his turkey this year.

Tillys Nest- Berkshires visit Thanksgiving

The time away was good. Despite being surrounded by my husband’s loved ones I still felt lonely. I holed myself up in the kitchen cleaning and washing dishes. Plus, if I kept busy I would not have to think about that hole in my heart aching. I knew it. Time, I needed more time. It gently reminded me.

TillysNest- snow on chicken coop
Snow arrived early this year. Time to winterize the coop.

After a few days away and allowing the girls to fend for themselves, we were home. The next morning, I reluctantly bundled up in the rain for chicken chores.  They needed a tidying, mischief inspection (Lucy always gets into something- this time she broke her beak), food and water. No sooner had I left the sliding door out to the cottage garden and shed, did I hear them calling my name.  “Ba-Ba-Ba-bahhhhhh!”  Silly me, they did remember!

My heart skipped a beat with joy. I was coming girls. They were so happy to see me as in all the other times when I have been away. I plopped myself down and sat with them. We shared mealworms and they showed off their new fresh feathers from the molt. There were no actual words spoken but time spent with them made me happy.  I missed them. All eight of them, even the mean girl Panko.

Chickens in the coop- Tilly's Nest
Look at Panko’s face. She’s up on the nesting box roost.

I think the key to dealing with this hole is trying to find a new normal all while allowing yourself to grieve. What I’ve come to realize with this hole in my heart is that it needs to be filled with new memories. Life goes on differently but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t as good as it was before. Acknowledging my feelings and this deep profound grief is a good thing. I am in control to fill this hole with cherished memories, favorite things, family, new memories and good times. Gosh, these chickens, they are smart.

I sat out there for quite some time, and when I came in I realized that Christmas wasn’t going to come this year unless I invited it. For the first time in weeks, I’m excited for the upcoming holiday and the new year.  Slowly I know that the hole in my heart is mending. Yesterday it started to fill with delicate soft downy chicken feathers.

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