One of our readers recently asked if animals grieve at the death of their companions. Here’s her letter, followed by my reply.
You regularly write blogs which are about animals, especially pets. Just a few days ago I read one about the attitude of animals towards death. This made me wonder about something related to that.
How do animals feel about another animal dying?
My daughter has had two small rats as pets for a couple of years. They were siblings and had been together from birth. They lived in a large cage together, slept in a hammock or a wooden house inside it together, and also often played in our living room together. They were always grooming each other and sometimes stealing each other’s food! Over the years they became very affectionate and climbed onto our laps for some attention, or just as an easier way to go somewhere. Until a short time ago.
Suddenly they did not play so much anymore but went to sleep in each comfortable place they could find in the room. And they did not climb up to visit anymore but went to sit on someone’s foot, expecting to be taken up. Yea, we became elevators! Last week one of them, Noor, was making the rounds and came to each of us in turn. When she lay on my husband’s lap, suddenly her sister, Raya, came up as well and lay down beside her.
She started licking and grooming Noor and finally went away again to go to sleep somewhere. In the morning Noor had still been able to run around and play, if even for a short time, but in the afternoon suddenly she could not even walk anymore.
My daughter kept her on her lap and finally she died, while Raya was asleep. My daughter kept Noor on her lap and brought Raya to her when she had woken up. Again she started licking her dead sister for a while and then she went away.
We buried Noor the next day and give Raya as much attention as possible but of course we do not know what she feels right now. She has never been alone before. It was obvious that she already knew that something was up and it was good that she got the opportunity to say goodbye.
Is she still grieving?
That’s a great question. I and my spirit guides believe animals do “grieve” for their human and animal family and companions, though not necessarily in the same way humans do. I know from my personal experience this is true.
Years ago we had three very young miniature schnauzers. One of them died when he was only two years old. Although the other two were not present at his death, they seemed to go into a “grieving period.” It didn’t last long, but they obviously missed him.
Do animals grieve? What are your thoughts? Please share with us below.
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