Family News | Writings

My First Funeral, or The Tragic End of “Birdy Bird”

Two nights ago I was awakened by what sounded like bare feet shuffling in front of our door. I jumped out of the hammock (ok, I half-rolled, half-fell out of the hammock) ready to do battle with the intruder.

To my great relief, it turned out to be a medium-sized waterfowl (we still don’t know what kind) that had fallen into our front courtyard.

The next morning we found it still cowering in the corner. Further inspection revealed that it had a broken leg.

Throughout the day Michael, our animal-loving firstborn, tried desperately to nurse it back to health. Sadly, all of his efforts were in vain, and in the late hours of the afternoon the bird (christened “Birdy Bird” by Nathanael), departed this life. A disconsolate Michael came into the living room, cradling the limp body in his arms.
“He didn’t make it!” he wailed. He put the bird in the yard and went to his room and sobbed.

The normally cheerful Nathanael was sober, more because his older brother was crying than because of the passing of “Birdy Bird”.

I went into Michael’s room, sat down next to him on the bed, and held him for a few minutes. Then we decided that Birdy Bird should have a proper funeral. Michael got a box, decorated it with some flowers, and the two boys and I set out in the car to find a suitable final resting place. A couple kilometers down the road we found a nice wooded area complete with flowers. We placed the makeshift coffin among the flowers, and gathered around.

The dearly departed.

I said a few words about how God made the animals for our enjoyment, and how the death of Birdy Bird was a reminder of how sin caused death in the world. Then we joined hands and I prayed, thanking God that, for people, Christ had died so that, one day, there would be no more death.

It was a tender, father-son-son moment–one I will treasure for as long as I live.

Michael has recovered from his loss, and is already talking about the next animal we are going to get–probably a cat or a dog…or a lizard.


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  1. Good for you. Any pet I had I buried by myself. Tell Michael, when you think it’s appropriate, that Grampa is proud of him. May he always have that tender soul, and may it touch many lives gently for Christ.

  2. Uncle Steve and I buried a pet cat when I was 3 or 4. A few days later I wanted to see “Benjamin” again so, against Uncle Steve’s warnings, I dug him up. I didn’t pet him, though!

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