Has anyone else suffered this loss? Is therapy available?
Life is fraught with difficulties and trip-hazards, but mercifully Wonder-Brother has come to the rescue once again.Thank you, dear Brother and may a thousand blessings shower through the leaks in your roof.
However, even Wonder Brother could not locate my missing tool, so if anyone finds a partially-used Navbar in their man-drawer, please post it back to me, the tooter the suiter.
But Navbars aside, all has not been well in the hen's paddock.
As you may know, Napoleon died two weeks ago.
It was a very sad day and the place is oddly silent. Considering how small he was, it is surprising that he took up so much room. I miss him. I miss him crowing all day, and answering to his name, his nodding head and his funny little ways.
|Napoleon and Mrs Smith (aka Dolly)|
I am not alone.
Mrs Smith took to her bed (which is, let's face it, an age old tradition with dowagers) on the afternoon of his death, and has remained there ever since, despite all attempts to coax her out. She even got quite cross and started biting me every time I put my hand in to lift her out.
I am ashamed to say that I hadn't thought how badly she might be affected by his going.
I suppose I presumed she would just muddle in with the other hens and carry on. I hadn't realised how much she would grieve.
I am quite shocked at how insensitive I was. I'm normally very tuned in to my animals.
Someone once told me that when an animal dies, you should leave it in its bed for awhile, for all your other animals to see, so that they understand what has happened. Since then, I have always done this, and it's true, they do all come and look and sniff and sit for awhile (or run away in some cases), but they do seem to understand. They usually attend the subsequent burial too.
I think it stops them searching for their erstwhile companion, wondering why they have disappeared and why they never return, although it didn't stop Under-Dog grieving when his mother died. For weeks he stood out in the yard looking haunted and distressed. But generally it seems to help.
|A sad little Golden Princess|
To my shame, I was so upset at losing Napoleon, I forgot all about Mrs Smith that horrible morning, and I didn't accord her that courtesy. He was ill, we took him away and she just never saw him again. That was it.
Perhaps she has been waiting all this time for him to come home. They were a couple after all, they spent all their time together. They had their own separate pen - Claridges.
Her obvious unhappiness has made me feel very guilty.
People tend to be slightly dismissive of animals, and mutter things about anthropomorphism.
How arrogant the human race is. As if emotions could only possibly belong to walking, talking, gum-chewing homosapiens. We have the exclusive ability to feel, the divine right to any sentiment that's going.
Perhaps it's because animals don't actually speak our language and can't put us right.
I have lived with animals all my life, and some of them have had a greater depth of feelings than many people I have known - and, even without human speech - a better way of communicating them.
Their emotions are straightforward - like a child's - but real nonetheless.
These last few days, I have been carrying Mrs Smith out to the orchard - a world she has never seen before - and putting her with the other hens. As we walk she is tense and anxious and constantly looking around, despite all my reassurances.
Is she searching for Napoleon or just seeing new vistas? Who knows.
I have also been apologising to her, something I feel is necessary, whether she understands it or not.
She certainly understands all about bereavement.
|Hopefully Mrs Smith will soon join the daily race to the orchard|