So as I’m sure many of you are aware at the weekend we said goodbye to our family friend, Helen. She spent 3 of her 4 years with us in pure free range Bliss. She filled our life with love and while she wasn’t in our daily lives as much as a dog or cat, its taken losing her to realise that actually she was so very present in our family unit.
She spent her evenings in her two story wendy house – hard life – and spent her days roaming the garden and surrounding fields. Her wings weren’t clipped so she could always escape danger and she was more loyal than most cats I know – she spent the morning in the playground of Beaux’s nursery the first day we had there.
She came inside when it was freezing and she ate sweetcorn ice lollies when it was hot and wherever we were, she wasn’t very far.
If you’ve ever thought about getting a chicken you absolutely should! Our intention is to re home some ex battery hens in the future, but for the meantime keep your eyes peeled for a little Helen tribute where we’ll be raising as much money as we can before we can help some hens find happiness here.
She gave us a wonderful and fulfilled few years and I hope we did the same for her and the same for more in the future.
Rest easy, Little Red Hen x
I think a lot of people find it hard to understand the grief of a pet, even harder to understand it of a chicken. But it is overwhelming and its almost indescribable as your relationship with that animal is very complex and unlike any other. It is made up of so many layers.
I’ve come to understand that actually when we are grieving the loss of a beloved pet, we are actually mourning several losses at the same time..
- The loss of unconditional love: Our pets provide us with emotional responses that are uninhibited by concern for how their expression appears to others. Many of our human relationships aren’t that simple; they can be riddled with anxiety about rejection and other fears that often dictate how we behave and what we share. Our pets do not judge insecurity or imperfection. They are all-accepting in ways few humans can achieve.
- The loss of a protégé: Having a pet is much like being a parent. We are responsible for another life and often go to great lengths to ensure our pet’s physical and emotional comfort. Numerous activities revolve around our animal companion’s needs. We hire pet walkers and sitters to provide our furry friend with company or exercise. We go to dog parks to enhance our pooch’s life with social activity. All are efforts to provide our charge with the best caretaking possible. Consequently, the loss of a pet can feel like the loss of a child.
- The loss of a “life witness”: Not only do our animals provide us with their uninhibited emotional expression, but they also allow us to express parts of ourselves that we may never let other humans see. They observe our weaknesses, our victories, and move through years of our lives with us. During periods of upheaval, they often provide us with security, stability and comfort.
- The loss of multiple relationships and routines: Each role that the pet occupied (e.g., friend, child, significant other) as well as each role that we as owners took on is a loss. We must say goodbye to feeding time, walking routes, and all the aspects that made up our practical routines. We must not only say goodbye to the physical activities, but to the reflexive way we called to our companion when we wanted comfort and love. These goodbyes all contribute to the time and patience needed to grieve the loss of a pet.
- The loss of a primary companion: For some of us, our pet was our only social companion in the world. We may not have had any other close contacts, due perhaps to depression, anxiety, or a debilitating physical illness. We relied exclusively on our pet for support and love.
So while yes, an animal isn’t the same as losing a human companion, the grief is still there and still very real.
Sending all my love to those of you that have loved someone close.