A Death Well Lived

My sweet old hen Cordelia is dieing. She has a fatal chicken condition know as water belly. Basically, her liver is shutting down coupled with congestion heart failure.

She’s an indoor hen now that her mate Kang is gone. She has no one to protect her while roaming the farm. I’ve had to take over as care giver, companion, and comforter.

Having a chicken in the house is not ideal. However, she has out lived all her friends. As someone with a life expectancy of nearly one hundred years it’s given me some real issues to feel through concerning death and living the next sixty something years well.

Death is nothing new for me. My Papa died when I was twelve. I lost my grandmother in my late twenties. I attended the funerals of my aunt and uncle before the age if ten. I’ve sat Shiva for friends and I’ve watched children die. Living on a farm, hunting, putting down animals. Like my grandfather taught me. Death is just part of living. It’s how we face it that matters.

But there is something about being with Cordelia that is deeper. Or maybe I’m finally old enough to appreciate the spiritual beauty of death from a wiser perspective. Maybe it’s the lack of suffering and the total trust coupled with excitement over every day my little hen displays.

Death is a fact. We all die. We all end up physically the same – dust and fodder for the next generation of life.

So often we hear “live like you were dying”. But I’ve learned a new paradigm “Die like you are living”.

It’s that living part we so often forget when the bad news hits. When words like cancer, disease, terminal, and fatal start floating around it’s easy to forget that we are still alive. Carpe diem still applies.

I don’t know if Cordy Coo knows she’s dying. She seemed to know when her clutch mates and Kang were approaching the end. Many of my birds have found me outside, laid down on my feet, and promptly gone into death spasms. I’ve watched young birds lay their heads over on a senior bird that cared for them as the end approached. There is some spark of awareness there that something is happening.

One thing is for sure. Cordelia wakes up talking about life and showing her affection. She sleeps more and more, but when she’s awake there is no sadness, no fear. And in the end – she is my model for a death lived well.

Be Well and at Peace,Moriah and Cordelia

*My Cordy Coo passed away before this was scheduled for publication. She asked to be held then passed peacefully in my arms with not much more than a soft coo. In honor of her I made this short video.

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