Goldie, my Golden Comet hen, is dying. We have a five year history, she and I. She was the last non-Araucana chick left at the feed store, where I had gone that day to pick up “the hens that lay the Easter colored eggs.” A two day old chick; a golden ray in a group of seven Araucanas the vibrant colors of fall.
She was the color of spring and sunshine, with a gentle, friendly temperament, destined to lay only drab tan eggs. She peeped and chortled at me when I bent over the brooder. She begged to be picked up when the other little chicks ran screeching and complaining. I fell in love. Who cares if she will only lay drab tan eggs!
For five years she has been my gentle companion, often sitting beside me in the garden, scratching, dust bathing, sunning herself, and always chortling away to me, while the other hens wander far afield, digging, chasing bugs. Just six months ago she, I and her seven hen sisters traveled together on a 1,000 mile car trip from Vermont to my new home in Waynesville, N.C. It was unthinkable to leave Goldie, or any of them, behind. I have shed a lot of tears over the last several weeks of her decline, asking myself over and over again, is it time to help her take that final trip, that final step into peace and ultimate healing?
I shed tears as I sit here and write this, knowing that yes, it is now time.
Grief is a path we must all travel at some point in our lives, probably for most of us many times. As a clinical social worker I make a promise to those I work with to be a caring, supportive witness to what is being shared and felt during therapy, to be fully present in the midst of whatever emotions present themselves. To honor the feelings and experiences of others is to first honor and accept my own difficult feelings and experiences. This is true for all of us.
Whether we are grieving for the loss of a deceased relative, a friend, the decline of a relationship or our health or our youth, or the loss of a beloved pet, even a little golden hen… it hurts. But this is what it is to be human, and to truly heal we cannot push away or avoid the pain. So I breath deeply into my own experience of the loss of my beautiful little hen, shedding tears, feeling it fully, and healing myself in the process.
Peace and healing,