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.