Monday, February 18, 2013

two lost


Our weekend had a sobering quality. We were surprised by the loss of two hens on Saturday afternoon. Henrietta and Bocky. This is always a possibility, if not probability, with chickens... especially when you're in deep country. After almost a year of letting them roam free 80% of the time, we were feeling invincible. Poor sweet girls. Our valiant and handsome rooster, Guapo, was a bit roughed up, too... I believe he fought hard to protect them. So we're a bit tender as we start this new week together. I'm happy that it's school vacation time... my littlest has experienced a lot of loss this year, but the death of a pet (and they were most definitely pets) is new to her. There have been lots of tears, talks, art... and treats. A little sweet comfort food is always helpful. Homemade chocolate pudding with freshly whipped cream is the perfect soother. We consciously used eggs laid that day to honor their life and give thanks for all of the hope that they brought us during this past year.
I discovered this recipe during the fall, and it's been on repeat ever since. It calls for 4 egg yolks, and since our favorite cookie call for 4 egg whites, they happen in tandem. I'll share that recipe the next time I get a picture of them... they disappear quickly.

Today is a new day, and the tears are dry, but if you have any suggestions for how to help children through this process... they are always very appreciated. I realize it's not quite the same as a dog or cat, but I believe we all would benefit from a conversation around animal losses with children, so thank you.
*****
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19 comments:

  1. My family planted a tree and had a plaque made for their loss, it was a dog you we loved very much.

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  2. ah, I am sorry for your losses. My littles had to say good bye to their beloved Mountain Horned Dragon, a couple of years ago. A lot of empathy along with ample opportunity to talk about everything and anything. Hugs, memory prompted giggles, memory prompted sharing and as much time as they need. We got through it and they became more aware individuals. Aware that there is pain and loss among the joyous experiences and that they have to coexist, or we could not have them each.
    Love to all.

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  3. So sorry & sad for your sweet girl. We have a little spot in our yard where we buried our girl's first fish & we put a little stone headstone that we carved the name & date in. I know that she still really appreciated that.
    Did you make something with a feather from each? I'm not sure how that would go over with your love. I think mine would love to have a pice to hold onto.
    Do you think it would be ok to send her a loss of pet sympathy card? Let me know.
    peace & love to all of you on this beautiful sunny day!
    xoxo kimm

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  4. Maya, I'm so sorry for your loss. Our hens are pets too, and we are so attached--it's hard not to get attached to their sweetness. My boys have experienced several losses, as well, and we have found it therapeutic to make some type of memorial to the pet, like a stepping stone, or even a memory box. When my middle son's cat died last spring, he gathered some mementos of Scratch and put them in a cigar box. A nice children's book for dealing with grief is The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst. Maybe you could gather some feathers for each child to keep, and I think it was great to eat a special treat made with those eggs. :)

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  5. I too was going to mention the same book by Judith Viorst. I assume there was nothing left? I buried the ashes of our cat and dog under 2 trees in our yard and we talk about "Frida blooming" ... we have a fairy circle under one and prayer ties in the other ... and we've talked about how our beloveds are never really gone, they live on in our hearts. We miss them but feel they are with us still. I am amazed by how well my girl absorbs these notions ... we talk and believe in reincarnation ... and she will ask me what we are going to be in our next lives. She wants to be a cheetah and has informed me I must wait for her (where? as what? but of course!)

    So sorry for the loss of your sweet girls ... I can only imagine they had some wonderful days being loved by you all. That is a gift ... they were always loved and cherished. xo

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  6. So very sorry for your loss. We have yet to lose one of our chickens, but I know the time will come. Hugs.

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  7. When we lost our dear, sweet 15-year old dog last August (just 4 days before my daughter left for college - ouch!), we each made our own private list of things we loved and remembered about him, things that made us smile. I still have the lists on my desk, haven't found the courage to face compiling them just yet, but it really helped us all to reflect back on his long and happy life and felt comforting to know we had recorded those memories. This won't really help since yours this weekend was a more sudden loss, but fond memories and the passing of time did seem to help.

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  8. Sorry to hear about your loss. Could you make something with some of the eggshells maybe as a more lasting reminder? I think planting a tree is a lovely idea. I work with children's books so immediately a book by Robie Harris and Jan Ormerod called 'Goodbye Mousie' comes to mind. It's a sweet and sad book and it describes the stages of grief and the feelings that come with them very well. It might be useful.

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  9. I'm sorry to hear about your lost chickens. We've had our share of losses, too, over the couple years we've had our chickens. I don't know that I have any good advice about how to help children in dealing with the loss. Our boys are only (almost) six, and chickens have been a part of our lives for about half of theirs, now. Maybe because the first time we lost a chicken came when they were significantly younger, but they have never been very distraught. They have been spared seeing the results of predation, so I'm sure that helps as well. But we have tried to be as direct is appropriate, and just hold them, let them express their feelings and answer any questions they have - just be real and accept the sadness while it lasts. We have also raised small flocks for their meat, as well, so that may help it be more of a "normal" thing? It is never easy, though, even when it is in some way a "normal" part of life. I hope each of you is able to find some extra grace to heal the tender places. ~Annie

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  10. We have lost several pets, most notably the cat, whom we found in the living room as we came home from a long day at school. Hers was a peaceful death, which helped, but I talked with the kids about "the circle of life" (bless that 'Lion King') and that everything dies and it can be very sad, but it's normal and ok. They were ok with petting her body (following my lead) and seeing it was still soft and furry, and not scary. We buried her in what is now our pet cemetery in the back yard, with a flower and a little funeral before school the next morning, then went out for breakfast to mark the day as special before a late arrival at school.

    My kids aren't at all attached to the chickens. I was devastated the first time some died (all my fault, I left the run door open and dogs got in), but over time several more have been gotten by night critters or other things, and it's more 'just how it goes' now. I'm sorry your chickies died -- they have such personality and it's so easy to love them for their funny ways.

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  11. I used the book Lifetimes:The Beautiful Way To Explain Death To Children (hate the subtitle) with my class when I taught 1st grade...I find it a very straight forward way of explaining.

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  12. It's not so different from losing a cat or dog, losing a chicken. We've had this heartache many times here and it rarely comes without tears. We lost a girl just this week, one of our favorites. I've explained to our kids that the animals taking our birds (most often hawks here but also raccoon, weasel, and owls) are hungry and are looking for an easy meal. They didn't take our chickens to hurt us, they're just trying to live. We haven't done anything special to memorialize our girls but I do take a moment with the kids to acknowledge what happened. If there are remains we bury them deep in our garden and we thank her for giving back to us through the nutrients she gives our earth. I try to make it respectful without dwelling.

    I think you've handled it beautifully, choosing to celebrate the life that was rather than focus on the loss. Hugs to you and yours. x

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  13. I haven't read the other post to see if someone suggested this or not. When we lost our dog, my three kids picked their favorite picture of the dog and then they decorated a frame however they wanted(let me tell you...those are some very colorful picture frames)and we hung the pictures in their room. We still have them 7 years later and we still talk about the dog and we answer all questions that we can. A loss of a pet is still a loss to someone(even if it is a chicken) and that should be acknowledged. It's a difficult life lesson but one that is unavoidable. It sound like you handled it with respect for your daughters feeling as well as the chickens and with grace.

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  14. When our cat got so sick and we had to have him put to sleep, our 8-year-old grandson was upset, as we all were. We buried our cat in the woods behind our home and our grandson put some flowers on the grave, as well as a favorite rock. We talk about our beloved cat a lot, and say that he is in heaven. Of course, this is our belief, which may be different from yours. A newly adopted cat has helped ease some of the pain and loss. So sorry about your chickens.

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  15. Oh, Maya, I'm so very sorry for you all--sometimes life is so harsh when we're already at our most vulnerable.

    So many lovely suggestions above to honour and remember the sweet animals in our lives. My oldest daughter lost her guinea pig exactly three years ago today. She had rescued him from a cold Chicago alley and doted on the little guy for the rest of his days (which were spent in pampered luxury). One thing she started on her own--and continues to do to this day--is to say a special "goodnight" to him at bedtime, along with other animals she has loved...the little bird who broke his neck running into the window, the baby squirrel who fell from the tree and died, the dead field mouse she saw on the street. It seems to be a little ritual that gives her comfort.

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  16. I'm so sorry. Our next door neighbors lost one of their chickens recently. They held a very sweet neighborhood gathering. The best part was the reading of the list of reasons that Charcoal would be missed. I wrote about it here....
    http://handstories.typepad.com/blog/2013/01/charcoal-a-beautiful-colored-friend.html

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  17. so sorry to hear about the loss of your girls. xoxoxo

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  18. Dearest Maya,

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of two of your feathered beauties. I love how "In a Nutshell" gently describes the life cycle. I especially appreciate how the beauty and importance of the oak is evident even after it is gone. It isn't specifically about the death of a pet, but it has brought some comfort to my children when they have been faced with loss. Sending love! xo emily
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/188322098X/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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