I Can't Get Over the Death of My Birdie. What do I do now?
June 12, 2013 9:14 PM   Subscribe

My parrot Scooby died a week ago. I am still in a horrible state of mourning. My wife is over it. She keeps telling me to get over it too. YANMT. What can I do to move on? I loved Scooby so very much. I have to force myself to eat every day. I've been drinking a lot. I can't stop thinking about her and what she was like and did. I dream about her death every night. I think it's affecting my physical health.
posted by Splunge to Pets & Animals (45 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A week is a very short time for mourning. If you still feel this way another seven days from now then you should seek help for it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:16 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

Get over it after a week??? When my dog died I was still messed up and crying about it months later. I had grief about it for a long time. Someone told me this at the time: you will get to the point where you think about your dog and it makes you happy instead of sad. At first I couldn't even imagine that. After a year, I could imagine it but it wasn't true for me yet. It's been over two years and it is mostly true now. I think that you will be okay, just let yourself grieve, it is natural, and it's okay. Just feel it, but it won't always feel that way.
posted by cairdeas at 9:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [27 favorites]

A parrot bonds very strongly to its person. You were its person. Your wife wasn't. This is a big loss with real grief. Give yourself permission and room to experience it. It's normal. Just like the death of a friend, it may take months for the grief to recede. It's ok to be sad about the death. If, after another couple of weeks, you're having repetitive thoughts that won't relent, maybe consider some therapy. I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by quince at 9:25 PM on June 12, 2013 [26 favorites]

I'm very sorry for your loss. A week is a very short time, especially if Scooby was part of your family for many years. Everyone grieves differently. Your wife may be more reticent and you may need to process more. That's okay.

Be gentle with yourself. Stay hydrated- drink lots of water. Eat healthy foods. If you need to take a day off from work and you have personal or sick time, that might help- it might let you get some extra sleep and just process by yourself. Some people find it helpful to write down happy memories in a journal or notebook. Maybe you could plan a memorial of some kind- some people like things like garden pavers or plaques as memorials for pets.

The groups that liketitanic posted look like great resources. I'm thinking of you.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:26 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

Your grief is totally normal, but your wife's response is not, nor is it acceptable or okay. Do you have another person you could rely on for emotional support so you do not have to drink? Would you be able to challenge your wife's disregard for your sadness and let her know that she is making it worse?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:35 PM on June 12, 2013 [11 favorites]

A week sounds incredibly short to me, too. Parrots are super smart and make wonderful companions! But even hermit crabs can justify mourning.

It's good that you're thinking about Scooby, because that means you're working through it. My advice to you primarily is to take care of yourself - cut out the drinking as much as possible - and sit down, work out some daily structure a little beyond what you normally do. Set aside defined times for eating and sleeping and whatever else you absolutely must do on each day. Then between those things, let yourself feel however you need to feel. Basically, mourning mucks with your ability to read the signals your body tells you. So you need to ratchet down on the structure to make sure you get through this period without anything piling up. Taking care of your bodily needs will help you work through the mourning more successfully and hopefully you can stop dwelling so much.

You're absolutely allowed to be sad about Scooby for a long time. But even though you may be sad, it might help you to consciously think about the happiness Scooby shared with you, and the good home you gave her. Soon those reminiscent happy thoughts should come about as often as the sad ones, and hopefully given time you will remember her and be happy that you shared part of your life with her. The key is letting yourself work through it naturally, and naturally is different for every person and every relationship.

The thing about drinking is that it's a depressant. So while sometimes a drink can be a great thing to take off the edge of a stressful situation, or allow yourself to relax after being wound up all day, it's probably not helping you work through your feelings as well as you could be. If you know you're going to drink, structure it along with the other things like eating and sleeping, so you have a sort of measuring stick to compare your desired behavior to your actual behavior. Then you can say "well, I said I could have a glass of scotch, so I will, but then that's it, because afterwards it's time to lie down in bed." Instead of wandering around feeling rudderless and finding yourself four fingers into your drink, you know?

The flipside to this approach is that it's possible to over-schedule everything so you're not allowing yourself time or space to work through your feelings. Just remember that your emotions are absolutely legitimate. So plan to do things that aren't emotional, like eating and paying bills and so-on, but in the time in between let yourself feel as emotional as you need to be.
posted by Mizu at 9:47 PM on June 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'm sorry for your loss. A week is not long at all. What you can do to move on -- and, I think, all that anyone in your spot can do -- is just to keep putting one foot in front of the other, one hour at a time, one day at a time. I'd venture to think that one contributor to how bad you feel is the notion that it ought to be much better by now. It will get better, please don't lose faith in that, but it won't be instant.

So far as your wife goes, I hope she can manage to cut you a break and support you on the strength of what YOU obviously feel, even if she can't feel it herself. For the first few weeks, at least, she doesn't need to feel it, or even understand it. Just to be there when someone she loves is in pain. Good luck.
posted by tyllwin at 9:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry. Mizu's right: you're going to be washed over with sad thoughts, the same sad thoughts, and that's okay, but if you can, chase them away with a small happy memory, just the tiniest one, a different one every time because you have so many of them.
posted by holgate at 9:57 PM on June 12, 2013

I'm sorry for your loss. Some people don't bond strongly with animals, or bond more strongly with furry animals than feathery/scaly ones (you wouldn't think it would matter, but it does for some). Others bond extremely strongly indeed, to chickens, lizards, anything. I know someone who felt so sorry for a yabby (like a crayfish) at the market that she bought it to set it free rather than end up as someone's dinner. As others above have mentioned, there's nothing wrong with you for still grieving.

There's nothing wrong with your wife either, but she isn't being very sympathetic. I think for those who don't understand that strong bond you can form with an animal, it is something that's a bit sad but then is over. She may not realise that it can be any different if she's never felt it herself. Hopefully she loves you enough to give you the time and space that you need to grieve.

As far as what you can do - don't try to force yourself to hurry through the process. Try to give yourself space to feel the sorrow and happiness, and also remember some of the funny things she did, or crazy anecdotes about that time when she... Alcohol can give you a break from the sorrow, which sometimes you need, but ultimately isn't terribly effective. Just feel what you feel. It's hard, there's no easy way through - but you will get through.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:59 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

On review, what Mizu said.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:00 PM on June 12, 2013

I am so sorry for your loss. A week is a very short time to "get over" a living creature with whom you bonded and shared your life for many years. I hope you find support along one of the many excellent lines mentioned here.

I also hope that your wife's behaviour in this instance is not typical for the way she treats you or others. If it is, I am sorry about that, too.
posted by rpfields at 10:25 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Splurge, I second what others are suggesting here. These bonds are real and strong and losing them causes great pain.

I would just add that Scooby is irreplaceable, but it often does help to adopt another pet. That new personality and new bond can take some of the sting out of the loss of the old one. You still miss your animal very much, but that awful sense of deprivation and of a gaping hole in your life is lessened. And it is a good thing for another pet to get some of that great attention and care you lavished on Scooby.

I'd add that I'm not applauding your wife's lack of support, but she may have been a bit jealous of Scooby, and/or feel incapable of helping you and hence frustrated. People aren't always good at managing other people's grief and loss.
posted by bearwife at 10:26 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's OK for you to feel like bad. I lost my old dog a year ago and just got pangs of sadness typing this.
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 10:43 PM on June 12, 2013

A couple of years ago I attended a wake for Robert, the macaw. He was well-known and admired in our circle of friends even though his human was the only one who could safely handle him. Nevertheless whenever there were people around we could count on Robert to do everything in his power to be the center of attention. Losing him was a terrible shock. It helped his family and the rest of us to mourn together, tell Robert stories, laugh about his outrageous antics and, yes, cry a little bit. I keep one of his beautiful blue feathers on my desk.

So sorry for your loss.
posted by maggieb at 10:49 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

A week is definitely a short time. When my family dog died (I hadn't lived at home or in the same state for several years) I was really broken up about it. I couldn't see another dog of the same breed for a long time without crying.

Honestly, I think you need to let yourself be okay with being upset. I'm sorry your wife is not being supportive.
posted by radioamy at 10:55 PM on June 12, 2013

I wrote...
If you still feel this way another seven days from now then you should seek help for it.

Just to be clear I am referring to the over-drinking and the needing to force yourself to eat aspect of your grief. Those particular ways of dealing with your grief will, as you suspect, cause problems for your physical health.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:46 PM on June 12, 2013

I'm so sorry for your loss. It's just going to hurt. It will get better, little by little, eventually.
posted by amtho at 11:49 PM on June 12, 2013

Seconding Bearwife's recommendation to get another pet. I have seen it do wonders. My parents were devastated by the loss of their dog a few years ago, and getting a new dog to love did them a world of good.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:21 AM on June 13, 2013

I am so sorry, I'm also a bird person and I know just how closely you can bond with them. A week isn't very long to get over a pain like this, take your time, and be kind to yourself. It's ok to feel bad. Is there a parrot rescue in your area? maybe you can make them a donation in her name. Someday, when you are ready, adopt another parrot, there's a little dude out there that needs the kind of love you have to give.

all my sympathy.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:27 AM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Only you will know when the time is right to adopt another little being. Some people do well with an immediate adoption. I had to wait almost two years after the death of my cat before it was okay for me to let another pair into my heart. I second the SPCA support group suggestion -- I only went to one merting but it was very helpful with troubling emotions.

I also feel like this workbook would help you. It looks a little cheesy but it guides you through a life review of your lost little love and ultimately provides you with a memory book. When I was writing in mine, especially at first, it was slow going because I was crying so hard. But the book gives you permission to reminisce and a structured framework in which to do it, which is a path through grief.

I wish you well. Our relationship with our pets is generally uncomplicated and simply and fully loving, which makes their loss that much sharper. At least with people, we can usually recall a time we didn't want to be around them. That seemgs never to be the case with our pets.
posted by janey47 at 2:06 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

A member of your family has gone. Of course you will be grieving, and it's for no-one to say for how long or in what way you should grieve. Take as long as is needed. This isn't something you can put on your to-do list.

Warm thoughts to you.
posted by stenoboy at 2:07 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I loved Scooby so very much... I can't stop thinking about her and what she was like and did. I dream about her death every night.

This was me about a year and a half ago after a sweetheart of a feline friend passed. And there are some ways in which I'm still grieving -- I still think about how affectionate he was, and what his weight felt like as it hit a chair I was sitting on when he leapt up, and I half hope and expect his bed and things will still be in my parents garage when I go home to visit.

But at some point I started to see the grief I was feeling as one end of the long shape of a friendship, and understanding it as part of a whole I began to feel more of the whole shape of it again. With that came a sense of... connection? Or maybe just the sense that the whole shape still belongs to me even if the full association isn't present, and some continued happiness in that (like cairdeas said).

Sometimes I still reach for that shape and touch the grief end. It's especially difficult to do anything else in the shock of new loss. It takes time, more than weeks for many people. And the process of feeling the love you have for your bird (even mirrored across her passing as grief) and thinking about the experience of being with her and things she did is part of getting there.

I'm so glad nobody told me to just get over it. I don't think that's a particularly defensible way of working with someone who's grieving, especially someone as close as a spouse, but I will say there was a time I might not have understood that losing a pet can be as hard as it was for me. And that there's times when confronted by the grief of others that I've felt so powerless to either help or share that I avoided it. Perhaps your wife is in one of these positions.
posted by weston at 2:29 AM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. As others have said a week is no time at all when you've lost a part of your life.

This is a link to a basic outline of the tasks of mourning, which is one grief-work theory. The drinking particularly is a natural way to try to avoid feeling the pain of loss, but it just means you will stay stuck at this step. Your wife is probably only trying to help you - some people just can't deal with others' pain and I'm sure she just wants you to be "better". But maybe you could just explain that you are feeling really sad and you'd like to be able to talk to her about Scooby and about how you're feeling. Hopefully she will be open to this, but if not, are there other friends or family who knew Scooby who would be happy to let you vent when you're feeling bad, or share memories with you? It's really important to honour your feelings about this. They are totally natural and nothing to feel ashamed or confused about.

I know some people have mentioned getting another pet, and maybe this is something you'll think about at some stage. For now, or maybe in a little while, I was thinking it might be an idea to volunteer a few hours at an animal shelter or a bird sanctuary? You obviously have a lot of love and compassion and maybe sharing some of that with other creatures in need might help give you a little healthy distraction, and be a kind of tribute to Scooby, as it is her passing that has allowed you to give some of that love to another little being who needs you.

Do look after yourself.
posted by billiebee at 4:32 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry to hear about Scooby, and sorry you have an unsympathetic loved one making this even more difficult.

It's taken me several months to work through the grief of my own pet losses (in my case elderly cats I've had all their lives). Especially in the first couple weeks, it can be pretty rough, with little panic attacks and lethargy and sentimental lapses and so on.

One thing - I'd keep an eye on the increased drinking thing, as that can turn into its own problem separate from the grief it's presumably help medicate away. As others have suggested, if you can come up with some positive ways to express your feelings (write about the lost pet, work on art, etc.) or talk to other pet owners who've suffered similar losses, it might make the next couple months less bad.
posted by aught at 8:05 AM on June 13, 2013

maybe you can make them a donation in her name.

Yes, I forgot to mention this. It sounds strange maybe but when we made memorial dontations to the local SPCA and university vet teaching hospital, it really did make a difference. Also, some of our friends and relatives making unsolicited dontations in our pet's name was very touching as well, so we try to do this whenever we hear of a beloved pet's death as well.
posted by aught at 8:15 AM on June 13, 2013

I'm so sorry for your loss. As you can see from the responses here, lots of us have grieved over a beloved pet, and it's absolutely normal for it to take months or longer to process. In a few weeks it will be three years since I lost my first dog, and I still get teary-eyed from time to time (though on the whole these days I think about her with happiness rather than pain). If anybody had told me a week after I'd lost her to just get over it, I would have thought they were nuts (actually, I would've been pretty damned angry about that).

One thing I did shortly after my dog passed was to write, write, write - I wanted to get down all the memories of her I could, all my love for her, all the little goofy things she did, so I would never forget even the little things. This was somewhat painful to do, but also soothing in that it let me relive those memories and sort of be back there with her again while I was typing. It's an utter mess, very stream-of-consciousness, written "to" her because that's what felt good at the time, and that's okay - you're doing it for you and nobody else has to see it.

Another thing that helped is what billiebee suggests above: consider going to a bird sanctuary or animal shelter, where you can reach out to other birds or other animals who may be in need of some love. For months after I lost my dog I would go almost weekly to our local shelter for my "puppy fix;" even though I wasn't yet ready to adopt again it felt so good to be around dogs and give a little comfort to a few who seemed lonely or sad. If there's not a bird rescue near you, do you like wild birds? Maybe you could start feeding them at the park or in your back yard in Scooby's memory?

Writing this question was a great first step, but I hope you keep searching for ways to address this that work for you. You really can't will the grief away or bury it until it disappears, and self-medicating with alcohol is probably keeping you from processing your emotions. Good luck in finding things that help, and again, my condolences for your loss.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:17 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

As everyone else has said, grieving for a pet is perfectly normal. I have nothing but sympathy for the pain you are going through as I have gone through it with a beloved pet of my own. I however, am going to be blunt, you need to stop drinking, at least for now. Alcohol is a depressant and it will do nothing to help you process the loss as you need to do so you can move on. It will mess up your sleep and your dreams and dreaming is part of the way the brain helps process what has happened and helps soften the edges of the pain.

I know going over and over the events sucks, but it's the minds way of helping you cope with it believe it or not, exposure to the stimulus eventually makes it hurt less, though if you find you are starting to obsess or it takes more than a few weeks you might want to see someone about it. If you are having trouble sleeping or just processing things repetitive exercise is great, go for a long walk or on a treadmill at a gym or whatever. It lets you get out the way of yourself and your conscious thoughts while your mind does it's healing. Make a plan to eat 3 good meals a day, it is important as certain foods can release chemicals in the brain that can help with stress so it might be a good time to fall back on a few comfort foods if only because it will encourage you to keep eating.

Have you had some sort of ceremony Scooby, there is a reason there are so many rituals around death they really do help the living heal. I like to bury pets in my backyard and plant a tree on them, some people like to make donations or get them cremated. Make a donation to a rescue in their name. I know my father buried his dogs collar and bowl when he was a kid when he couldn't bring his dog home to bury, so is their something symbolic like that you could do with a favourite toy and some of Scooby's favourite food. The human brain loves symbolism, and whatever is meaningful for you to do might help.
posted by wwax at 8:35 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh, one more thing, and forgive me if this is just cheesy: when they heard the news of my first dog's passing, a couple of people told me they'd go give their pet an extra hug / treat / attention in Bandit's memory, and that made me feel good - it was sort of like my dog's existence had engendered an extra bit of happiness in the lives of a few other pets and their owners, in some small way. It was obviously just a little thing, but when there really is no response big enough to express your pet's life and what she meant to you the little things can be meaningful.

So for whatever it's worth, I'm off right now to snuggle the heck out of my dog for you and Scooby.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:51 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

FWIW, your wife having gotten over it is ok. It doesn't mean she thought any less of Scooby. People just grieve differently. You may find that once you are back to normal behavior she will take time to grieve, or she may not. I would hazard a guess that her admonitions to get over it are tied to the disturbing changes in your behavior not your actual sadness/feeling of loss. I second those saying try to find other ways to process your grief, there are some great suggestions here already.
posted by Feantari at 8:56 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

You should probably stop drinking. It is having a bigger impact on your health than your mourning per se, plus it deadens the pain enough to make mourning take longer. There's no need to rush your mourning, take as long as you need, but stop drinking. And let your wife know that everyone mourns at their own pace, so she needs to respect that.
posted by davejay at 9:24 AM on June 13, 2013

A week is nothing. I'd say a year is more like it. As far as your wife goes, it's probably upsetting to see your spouse so upended, and if she's never grieved for a pet in this way, she has no way of understanding it. I know because I used to not understand, and found it a bit frustrating when my mom took a long time to come out of the intense mourning of a pet. Now I do totally get it. So, maybe that will help you not to feel hurt by your wife's behavior (although I have to say it's terrible for her to be telling you to get over it, but hopefully she's doing that in a way that's actually less awful than it sounds in your post).
posted by HotToddy at 9:43 AM on June 13, 2013

Did you have a wake for your little guy? Formal grieving is a good way to put down a sort of marker, from which you can move forward.

When one of our cats died we buried her in a cardboard box in the yard. She was a special cat, rescued from the wild in the foothills of California. She was with us for ten years, and one morning she just lay down and died. We still miss her (she died about six years ago).

Please don't insist that your wife share the intensity of your grief. Your relationship with Scooby is yours to cherish, and I'm pretty sure you have many good memories of his life and times. Cherish those memories, and realize that his death is the ultimate existential statement of the cycle of birth, life, and death....his life was his gift to you.

Also, nothing is so bad that drinking cannot make worse.

I hope you'll accept my condolence on Scooby's passing.
posted by mule98J at 11:39 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think your grief is totally normal. I still have sad dreams about my dog that died 12 years ago.

When my family was looking into adopting another dog, someone told us the best way to show a pet that you lost that you loved them is by rescuing another. While it might be too soon for that, you might enjoy volunteering with a bird rescue or sanctuary.

I think you should have a conversation with your wife about what you need from her right now. She might have moved on with her grief, and it's okay that you have not. Knowing what your partner needs in these kinds of situations can be tough--tell her what you need from her. If she is unable to offer you the support you need, talk to a friend or relative.
posted by inertia at 12:10 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

My condolences for the loss of Scooby. I know exactly where you are right now, because our cat also died exactly a week ago today. He'd been with us a long time (17+ years for my wife, a bit less for me), he was very much a family member, and we're a long way from being done with grieving. We're painfully aware of his absence in a hundred small ways. I still imagine that I see him in the places I'm used to seeing him, and I have to remind myself that it's only the habits of the eyes and the mind that put him there.

I found that after a few days, it was very helpful to start going back through all the pictures we'd taken of him over the years. It stopped my mind from looping over and over through the last miserable few hours of his life, and instead start to remember all the love and happiness that came before it. Something formal -- a memorial, a marker, a ceremony -- also helps a lot.

Of course your wife may not grieve in the same way, but at the same time she ought to respect your feelings. (Amateur and baseless psychological speculation: perhaps she's trying to set her grief aside before she's really dealt with it, and feels like your open grieving upsets the equilibrium she's trying to reach?) Just try to be understanding with each other and talk it out if possible -- I imagine you're both feeling fragile right now.

Don't feel guilty about the grief. But it does get better, gradually, when you're ready.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 12:19 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry for your loss. A week isn't a long time to grieve for a pet, not at all. I still feel a pang of loss over my cat, Smoke, and she died a couple of years ago. It will take time for the pain to ease, but it will ease, and you'll find that you can think about Scooby with fondness rather than pain.

That said, please do be careful with the drinking, and the not eating. Drinking, especially, can make it harder to process the grief you're feeling, and make it harder to heal.
posted by sarcasticah at 4:00 PM on June 13, 2013

Two things:
1.Gently remind your wife that no-one should ever be told that one's feelings are wrong, something along the lines of: "I know you'd rather see me be happier by this time, but that's not going to happen by telling me that I should feel differently than I do. Please don't tell me to change how I'm feeling." If you can't quite do that, perhaps show her this thread.
She may actually be asking you to scale back the drinking, and using your grief as a proxy.
2. I will go home and give my quaker all the kisses he asks for, play his favorite Liszt pieces on the piano and let him eat a hard-boiled egg all for himself in Scooby's memory. I know how much you loved your bird, and all things birdly, and you have so much sympathy and all my condolences.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 4:07 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tell your wife I once cried three days straight over a HAMSTER. And that the vet kindly told me (as I was sobbing in her office feeling really embarrassed)..."love has no size."

That having been said, sometimes if one's grief seems inordinate it is because it isn't just the death you are mourning. That's worth a think at least.

I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:19 PM on June 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

Additionally, did you see this projects post? Maybe you have some of his feathers and could send them off to get memorialized.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:24 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was going to recommend what DingoMutt did - write about it. When my cat Alvin passed away last year, I was pretty heartbroken - he was special. I wrote a lot about who he was, what he was like, how he made me feel, how he looked and his little behaviors that had given me joy every day. In all seriousness, there were moments I was totally weeping and writing at the same time. But it was a really good thing to do. it let me think and "talk" about him as much as I wanted to without wearing anyone else down, and it also helped me create a really clear record of what he was like before I started to forget little details. I'm glad I did it, it helped, and maybe it's something you could try.
posted by Miko at 8:26 PM on June 13, 2013

I did something similar.. my birthday came not long after my dog died, and when the people closest to me asked what I wanted for my birthday, I asked them to write down their memories of my dog for me. Not everyone would be open to doing this, but the few people I asked were so sweet about it, and it made me really happy.
posted by cairdeas at 8:50 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a little bitty lovebird who has the personality of a macaw. He's 15 years old now and failing pretty fast and I'm wondering how I'm going to stand getting out of bed in the morning if I don't have him to fuss about. I've had the most wonderful dogs and cats and birds in my life and every one of them has a part of my heart, but this tiny little thing owns me. Soon I'll be in your shoes; that's not helping you a bit, I know, but perhaps there's just a small bit of comfort in knowing you're not alone. I hope you feel better soon.
posted by aryma at 9:29 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, I am so very, very sorry. Were you able to give her any kind of a farewell ceremony? If not, I'd encourage you to do so. When my blue-headed Pionus died, we gave her (the nearest approximation we could manage of) a Viking funeral. It didn't make things better, exactly, but I'm very glad we did it. (Rereading those posts — ow, my heart hurts now. RIP, beloved bird.)

I think one of the things that's hard with parrots is that, in ideal circumstances, they can live such an amazingly long time. When they die earlier than that, the feeling of responsibility and guilt can be strong. (Pionus can live to be 45, apparently. Instead, Bucky died at 14. I feel like it's my fault, in any of a number of ways. Like I said, ow, my heart hurts now.)

Please, in as non-hostile a way as you can manage now, tell your wife to back off and give you the space you need to grieve your loving companion appropriately. I can't help feeling that if you felt like you were getting the kind of respectful, loving support from her that you need now, you might not be drinking to deal with your grief.

Very much sympathy.
posted by Lexica at 10:46 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just have to add one thing. Long ago, before my sister and her husband were married, her cat attacked his parrot and she was like, get over it, we have an industry party we have to go to and a couple days later, after she bullied him into ignoring his bird's distress, the bird died and she had no sympathy for whatever fucked up reason, and I seriously never understood why he married her after that. Yet they have been married for 15+ years, and I think he doesn't hate her but honestly I don't know why. When my cat died, my boyfriend facilitated my recovery by allowing me my grief and it is rare that I have cared for or appreciated anyone as much as I do him.
posted by janey47 at 7:29 PM on June 15, 2013

Response by poster: Hi everyone. First I have to thank each and every one of you for your support. It was hard for me to read the comments here in the beginning. I'd get half way through and then just break down. But I'm getting better now. I have to especially thank Cold Lurkey for giving me her phone number and then us having a talk. I loved hearing her birdie screaming in the background while we spoke.

I'm not marking any one comment as "best answer" because they are all so wonderful. You all have helped me so very much.

Another thing I'd like to make clear is that my wife is not in any way wrong about how she feels. Maybe I didn't make it clear. But she is more worried about me than she is not understanding of my feelings. She has been nothing but supportive and there for me for this whole time.

It's a complicated issue. I am already taking medication for depression and she was worried that the issue with Scooby might bring me back to a very bad place. And for a while it did. She was more worried about me than the bird. But she still mourns the loss of our birdie as much as I do.

I don't want to go on too long here. But I want to repeat, thank you all for your comments. Now having read all of them, I know why I love this place and especially love all of you.

-Rich (Splunge)
posted by Splunge at 10:05 PM on June 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: My brother asked me earlier on in the sadness whether I'd ever consider getting a new bird from the pet shop that we often go to. At the time I told him, "Too soon."

But now I think I'll probably get another bird. Because I honestly don't feel complete without a parrot in the house.

There are a pair of lovely little ring necks in the pet store. I have been helping to feed them with eye droppers. They are so cute.

One was sold just today and the one that is left seems so sad.

We would love to get the one that is left. But first we have to go to the wedding of our son in July. If the ring neck is still there when we get back we will take it home. If not, we will try to help raise the babies that they have there in a covered cage. I don't know what they are but I think he said they are ring necks too.

Sometimes life just goes on. A wedding is important. But all I can think about is being a birdie person. So we will see. Thanks again to all here. You rock.
posted by Splunge at 9:03 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

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