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A Big Death


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I met Curt at hospice. I lost my husband of 27 years, he his wife of 31, 5 years ago. When Curt moved in with me he brought a dog and 2 cockatiels, Wilma and Fred. They are inseparable. They call to each other all the time, move to the same places in their cages, both up, both down. They are 15 years old. Wilma is on the bottom of the cage right now. She is dead. I hope to G-d Fred doesn't start calling her tomorrow.

Curt died one month after we married, last year. I have that twitchy finger that wants to make a phone call to someone. My mom died 2 months after Curt, my dad the year before. I have no kids, no other family. I wish I had a mother who cared that I could call like a little girl and say, Mom? guess what? Curts' bird died. But she isn't there. Curt wasn't there when my mom died, and the world is so upside down now. I am only 57 years old, and death is swirling around me like taffy, sticky to me and dragging me along with it to somewhere I do not know.

I loved little Wilma. His daughter wasn't interested in "her birds" but I found their personalities so defined and they gave me a stability and filled my home with their strong love for each other and wonderful sounds and songs they brought with them. They imitated sounds from Curts' home and the crying of his late wife, Marla. So much is dead with that little bird other than itself. I feel so much the not having Curt right now. My house feels empty and scary tonight. Something is so amiss.

This is so much more than Wilma, as you can see I just lost a lot of very big things to me.

I put this under this heading because technically this is about a little bird. But I am dying a little death . How much can you wish for? If only she could have lived forever with her boyfriend Fred, and with me. For G-ds sake! Can not something live forever? Can not something stay the same when it is good? I feel so lost. Oh , how I wish Wilma was still here. Doublejo

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Dear Double Jo

I understand how you feel. We had a cockatiel named Gizmo, He spoke so many words. He was 17yrs old when we found him dead. my boys could not even go to school. It was Nov 1, 2005. He was fine the night before. i know things like this happen with birds. i work for a vet for 15yrs and we have the top dr for exotics, they are so fragile and mask any symptoms. I believe your other tiel while grieve but can make it. you need to know if wilma died of anything contagious b/c then fred go be in harm. check to see if your vet does necropsy. maybe if that is ok you can think about another one, place it in a cage next to fred not in with fred.

i am sorry about all you are going through. sometimes when it rains it pours. i am not sure why. i think there alot of things we will not have answers to. the dr. i was telling you about above. he lost his only son , by suicide. he hung himself. then less then 2yrs later his wife of 25 yrs dies of breast cancer . he waits 2 yrs and remarries. kate dies this oct at 49 from a stroke. my heart goes out to him and you.

i wish i could say more, just know that we are here for you. lori

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I've been away on vacation and haven't been doing well myself since getting back, and then I saw your post this morning.

My head just reels and my heart pounds in fear when I hear stories like yours, and I'm at a loss for words, not knowing what in the world could possibly 'make it better' for anyone living a nightmare like yours. So I can only partially imagine how you must be utterly dumbfounded with all your losses. I don't even know just what to attempt to address here, the picture is so huge!

All I keep thinking is how each being, no matter how small or large, holds an entire, personal universe in his/her very beingness, and how important each and every crossing really is, to themselves and to those who are part of their lives. This is one of those times when I'm again reminded of a quote from Susan Chernak McElroy that has always rung so true to my heart:

"Either all death is important, or no death is important."

It is all about relationship, always. Wilma had relationships to so many, and those are all reflected in the sorrow you feel now with her passing. Your relationship with Fred will now shift, as you are both in pretty much the same boat now, but it will have its own, unique essence, reflecting all you have each gone through, both apart and together. You can now understand with great compassion, what Fred will be feeling and how he might be affected by his great loss. (birds, like anybody can, form deep bonds with their mates) You will need each other now, more than ever, and it is my hope that you each still have much to share and learn from each other through this terrible time of yet more loss.

Fred needs your love, just as you need his. I don't want to alarm you, but certain birds often pine away after losing their own beloveds, so don't let the 'illusion' of species or size differences fool you into thinking he is any less bereft than you are about Curt, or that he doesn't need your help and extra companionship. And of course, he is already quite elderly for his species. Lori's suggestion of another companion for Fred may be a good one, for both of you, but I would add the cautionary note that very often anyone needs a certain period of personal mourning before someone new can be allowed into their hearts, and that's as individual with other species as it is with humans. And you will most certainly need to consider yet another companion for whoever Fred will leave behind later, should you go this route. Perhaps, in the meantime, you could try to emulate some of those familiar calls yourself, to help you both feel less alone.

Wilma (and Fred) have both been ties for you to Curt, so it is perfectly understandable how your world would feel extra-diminished (aside from the hard facts) by the loss of either one of them. It is also the loss of another couple, so although their species is different, the parallels, I'm sure, aren't lost on you and are a painful reminder of your own history.

I also understand that "twitchy finger" you speak of. When one needs to talk, one needs to TALK!, and having no ready access (anymore) to anyone who would understand and sympathize can be absolutely maddening. But as has been said so many times at GH, that's why we're here - to BE that accessible 'body' for each other, even if it isn't quite the same or as easy as simply picking up a phone.

My heart breaks for both of you. Love is love, and loss is loss, so no matter who is affected, it is always so very heartbreaking. We're all struggling mightily with our own lost loves and relationships, so know you have a ready 'ear' here, no matter who is being grieved. Wherever there's been love, there is pain when it 'goes'.

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Lorikelly and Maylissa: I'm glad that I turned to this site to tell what has happened. Lorikelly, your information about the birds coming from someone so knowledgable is a tremendous help. Wilma had little"spells" over the years like a little stoke, or seizure. She'd flutter and fall. I kept the night light on so if she had perhaps a panic attack or anything, she'd feel better being able to see. I'm aware that cockatiels can be prone to these. She had one last month that nearly finished her, she was so exhausted from it.

They are in their own cages. Curt told me they became too territorial when together, so the cages are side by side. You gave me good information.

The story of your vet is truly tragic. I cannot fathom how he goes on. As you know, we are all good at going through the motions of daily life while inside we are wandering around in a cloud. Thank you.

Maylissa: You are so perceptive. Yes, love is love and each living creature is a special creation with its' own whole world of being, and yes this little bird reflects so many things. It always bothers me how people can divide lives up, place different "values" on all the different living miracles of life, or even choose which human deaths are more important from others.

I have left the TV on for Fred to get more sounds for him when I'm not in the kitchen. I usually had it on for them before, so this will not seem so strange, either. I have been talking to him ( and yes, making his sounds too !) and watching him to see if he'll preen and eat. Right now he is a veritable sound explosion making all his calls. I'm aware of birds pining away, and Fred's age. This makes this tricky, not wanting to leave behind another bird after Fred's death and of cause it will be a different bird for him. I will do nothing regarding this for awhile.

Looks like its' a good thing the birds taught me to speak "bird". But I don't think it quite counts as a foreign language for a resume^.

Thanks for being there. Doublejo

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Doublejo, I don't understand either why so many losses come at once. I lost a beloved little dog in May 2004. My 34-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in July 2004. My grandson was stillborn in April 2005. My daughter died in February 2007. And now I am preparing for the death of my 10-year-old rottie who was diagnosed with bone cancer in May 2007. Is there something we are supposed to learn? Are we not getting it? Will the losses keep coming until we do?

I love the quote about every death being important. A good reminder that everything in this universe is connected.

I keep thinking about what Nietsche (sp?) said: "If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger." We should be good and strong by now!

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Chandrasmom: Thank you for your reply.

I am sorry you also had to experience a trail of bad things. I like to think that all these deaths coming one after the other sort of "takes care" of a lot of crap in one big lump, sparing us from this stuff dragging on for years and years, since some of these deaths could happen sooner or later. That leaves alot of time and room for more new good stuff to come our way.

Regarding the quote about makeing you stronger: Actually that is not necessarily true. Things that don't kill you can also leave you broken, battered, scarred, unable to function, and just plain screwed up. If we get stronger we also can get harder with less feelings; perhaps callused is the better word. It's a nice platitude, tho.

One thing seems to be surfacing thru all the info on this site and that is death is common, perhaps more than we want to acknowledge. Used to be people and animals died all the time, and the sight of it was common, but we are not used to seeing that anymore. The standard of living is so much higher now and people care more about other living creatures.

The losses do stop. Our broken hearts mend with scar tissue that reduces the pain to a background ache. I suppose its' all how you look at it. I'm thankful and grateful for having had 2 wonderful men who loved me dearly. I'd hate to think of looking back someday in the future and seeing nothing there. Our time is for us to fill. Hopefully we can find enough good "stuff" to patch our holes with and maybe even outweigh the bad. My sincerest condolences to you. Your pain is great . Doublejo

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