Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath [b] ; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal [c] goes down into the earth?”
Ecclesiastes 3:19 – 22
At some point in our lives, we all face the emotional task of saying “goodbye” to a companion – and for those who have never lost a dog/cat/bird/reptile etc to death, its hard to understand why a person is crying so hard and for so long over their loss.
About 7 years ago I had a cockatiel named Sonny – she was a gift from my daughter for my birthday – she was a beautiful yellow tiel who could whistle “You are my Sunshine” perfectly without missing a beat – she was “my” bird – you know the kind, they tolerate other humans but you clearly know that you are their favorite.
She began laying eggs and we did everything we could to alter her lifestyle in order to alter her behavior – it didn’t work. I awoke one morning and did not hear her normal greetings for me – I approached her cage in the silence and crumpled to the floor when I saw her cold – lifeless body on the bottom of her cage – she had died from egg binding.
My grief was filled with guilt that I didn’t do enough to help her – I felt strongly that it was “my” fault and that “I” alone had caused her death and if only…if, if, if….
One of our first rescues to come in was a sweet little Nanday Conure that we named “Nina”. Her short life was spent being bought and sold and eventually she ended up in the home of a hoarder/broker – once she arrived to us she was very sick – we spent hundreds of dollars trying to find the source of her illness and at moments we honestly thought she was improving – sadly it was not meant to be – along the way she had contracted PDD – a very deadly disease which took her life in Sept of 2007.
Its still hard to talk about her without tears – at the hard life she had – and the life that was lost – what could have been….
When you lose a companion, let yourself grieve – if you need to cry – than do it – if you need to talk about your loss – do it – if you need to put photos all over the house – do it – don’t ever let someone tell you that your grief/emotions are wrong – they aren’t.
If the loss of your companion was “accidental” don’t hold onto the guilt!! As humans we ALL make mistakes and yes, those mistakes may cost us the life of our beloved friend – but you know in the deepest part of your heart it was not intentional – I have heard the words from many :
If only I had locked the cage
If only I had closed the window
If only I had checked that toy for a loose string
If only I had kept the dog/cat/ferret etc outside when I went out
If only I had closed the lid on the fishtank
Theres no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve, as individuals, we will deal with our emotions in our “own” ways – some can laugh, most will cry and some people will be angry – the pain will never go away – but it will ease over time.
In the life and death of a companion, we can also learn – if the death was accidental/medically related, share that information with others – the death of yours may save the life of anothers – this was the case for me – in losing two birds in two different ways, their deaths led me on a road of educating myself and others on the dangers of egg binding and Avian diseases.
Another thing that needs to be considered and dealt with is the remains. In a multi bird home, if one should die unnexpectedly, a necropsy is highly recommended – in Ninas case it was not until we had that done that we discovered she had the deadly disease – being a highly contagious disease, it was imperative that we took all precautions necessary.
If you do need to do a necropsy, it must be done within 24 hrs of the birds death.
If a bird has been euthanized, you need to decide on cremation or burial – when an animal is euthanized, the drug used is called euthanol – this is a very toxic drug and if you chose to bury your pet, you must ensure it is many feet below the ground so that other animals do not disturb the remains. You need to also check with your local municipalities to see if you are legally allowed to do this.
Cremation is another alternative – some facilities offer to cremate your pet with others and scatter the ashes or you can choose to have them returned to you.
This is “your” decision….
The hardest part of my loss was the silence and the dreaded chore of cleaning out the cage – take your time if you need to – keep a few items out in a special place if it helps and hold onto your memories – God blessed us with the ability to “remember” and when you think of your bird – don’t think of “how or why” they died, think of “how and why” they lived….and the many lives they touched while they were with you..
I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.