There is much evidence in the world from people who witness wild animals expressing themselves when there is a death in their family or community. I do not know what they are thinking or feeling, yet I believe they feel the loss and are mourning.
Merlin did not get up the morning after Arthur died. He was silent. This was unusual for him as he was typically out the door of the barn as soon as the sun was up. And if Arthur was out of sight, he would typically scream (yes, scream is the right word for it) over and over until he could see Arthur.
The still silence spoke volumes when I went out to tell him the news in the morning, since I got the call from the vet at 2am that Arthur did not make it through surgery. I think he already knew.
Merlin was also quiet when I brought Arthur’s body home and laid him in the pen in a large black bag. In fact, he seemed disinterested in the bag and what was inside.
Later that day, my husband and I did a ritual to honor and say goodbye to Arthur. Merlin watched from afar, though it was in his pen. In fact, he did not go down to that part of the pen until 3 days later.
That day, he followed me down the path through all of the white snake root. I sat down near where Arthur’s body was buried. Merlin smelled the grave and laid down next to it. He put his head down on the ground and stayed that way until I stirred.
It is easy to say that we anthromorphize animals. It is also easy to dismiss what they do as pure coincidence.
In order to understand what Merlin was doing, I turn to the tool I have that connects me to all of the happenings and connections around me every second of every day – my body. Our body still picks up on the invisible nuances of others and the environment that our ancestors relied on for survival. What I felt with Merlin that day, sitting with him on the ground by Arthur’s grave, was mourning. He knew Arthur was gone and he was grieving. He wasn’t ready to lay with Arthur until 3 days after the burial. That was his timing. Some people say the spirit of a being stays on the earth plane for 3 days before moving on. I am unsure if this was true for Arthur. Either way, I honor Merlin’s timing.
Every once in awhile I hear Merlin scream as if looking for Arthur. I go out and talk to him to let him know I am here, though I am not a replacement for his brother. He quiets down.
He loves his hikes with me still, perhaps even more since he does not have to fight for the lead. He is learning what life is like without his brother. He is moving on. And sometimes he screams.
One beautiful moment that happened while Merlin was laying down near Arthur’s grave, was a drone (male bee) came and landed on his back. Merlin typically hates any buzzing noise and jolts his body nervously every time he hears it. Those of you who know me, know I love bees. Those of you who know bees, know drones have a loud buzz. Merlin, just laid there through the visit. It felt as though a comforting visit was bestowed. Whether I am anthropomorphizing or not, the feeling was love.