Grief in the Animal Kingdom
Grief is a natural part of life. Many social and pack animals experience grief at the loss of a loved one; just as we do. When an animal in the wild passes away, it’s family and friends feel grief. They may show behavioral changes after the death; such as in eating or sleeping habits. Animals may want to stay near or with the deceased, or show signs of sorrow. Dogs, chimps, ducks, elephants, and more show incredible signs of grief after the loss of a loved one. Grief is a natural part of the healing process, across the Animal Kingdom.
Death in the Wild
Chimpanzees will often stay with or near their fallen member of their social group for a time. If a baby chimp passes away, the mother may keep caring for it for days or even weeks; denying the loss. Other chimps will rally to console the grieving mother during this time.
Elephants, as one of the most intelligent animals in the world, will often examine their fallen family member with their trunks. They may sway back and forth in sorrow. Some might even attempt to help them stand up, to no avail. Elephant children might return to their parent’s body a number of times before the herd moves too far away. Other elephant herds that find a fallen elephant from outside of their own may attempt to check on it or help it as well.
Dogs, from housepets to the wild packs will often show compassion and sorrow after the loss of a loved one. Dogs can experience depression and refuse to eat after the death of a companion. Pets will often express this type of loss when their owner passes.
Some animals have been known to exhibit signs of burial and funeral rituals. Elephants may move twigs and long grasses to drape their fallen herd-mate. Magpies will pick grass and lay it over their deceased. Ravens will often fly in swooping circles around their dead, crying out in lower tones than usual.
Grief, loss, and death are natural parts of life; for any social animal. The heartbreak that the death of a loved one can bring is something that we share with each other, and with animals. Animals and humans both find comfort in others during the times of grief and loss. It is through coming together, and celebrating the lives of those who have passed, that the healing process can begin.
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