Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Dealing with Death

How do you tell tell children about death? It's inevitable. All things die. Sadly yesterday morning  my oldest child, Duncan, went to let the chickens out and discovered that one of them had died during the night. He came to tell me. He was bawling his eyes out. Soon so was I. 

It was 'Coolie' our little brown Barnevelder chicken. Duncan and I had only bathed her the morning before. We were treating the messy feathers around her bottom. I am not sure why she died. Maybe the problem was an internal one. I was not willing to do an autopsy to find out.

So I took her body out of the hen house and put her under a lime tree. As Frances and Tristan awoke my husband gently broke the news to each of them and showed them Coolie's body. Each of them handled it differently.

Frances peppered Dean with lots of questions about death and what happens after. But I was most worried about Tristan's reaction. Coolie was his chicken. Tristan has atypical autism. My husband did a great job.
"I never got to hold my chicken" he said. It was true. Coolie was the fastest chicken. We could never catch her. She didn't like to be pet even at roosting time.

We talked about what a great chicken Coolie was. "He was the fastest and the fluffiest" my husband said. "She's a girl you know Dad!" Tristan said. 

It's the first time my kid's have confronted death. Pets are a good introduction to it.  I am sure we will go on to lose more chickens. I think it is important to have pets for that reason.


  1. Oh that's really tough for the kids - and for the parents to deal with it too! Sounds like you handled it very well! Hope Mr T is okay.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about Coolie's passing. Perhaps you should Google chicen health? My thoughts are with you, I like chickens too though I don't have any. :(

  3. I'm so sorry about Coolie, her passing and the loss to your family.
    One of my brothers, Eric, is a chicken farmer, he has lots and lots of them, and takes lovely care of them all. He is well regarded in that field and has written a very readable book on the care of chickens called Chickenese; you can find it here: http://www.thepamperedpulletsfarm.com/The_Book_Store.html The book deals with lots of things relating to chicken raising, including the kinds of things that make chickens sick and how to help them get well. I think his website has other information that may be useful to you with your new pets but I'm certain he would talk with you as well. I'll let him know he may hear from you. It is possible that whatever made Coolie sick is still among your flock.
    I am so sorry for your loss.

    1. Oh Holli I have been Googling some info on chickens ever since I noticed the soiled feathers but it may have been something internal. We were away for a week on a holiday and had chicken sitters so we had just come back to re-start treatment when she died. I will definitely check out your brother's book and website. Thanks for suggesting that.

    2. I heard back from my brother and he said that he would be happy to puzzle it through with you; he can be reached at the pamperedpullet (at) yahoo (dot) com. All the best to you.

  4. hi Fiona,
    sorry for your loss but it looks like you have used it as a teaching tool. I have nominated you for a Liebster award. you can read the post here: http:partyofeightourstory.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-liebster-award.html


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