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A Word from Me...We're Ms. Lonelies No More!

by Elise Negrin

Days turn into weeks and weeks into months. That's how it goes as we grow up and grow older. Time doesn't stand still for anyone and for some, time just plain runs out. About a month ago my Blue & Gold Macaw Pokey passed away. Oh, I knew he was sick and I knew he would not live long, but it didn't make it any easier. At least we (my Greenwing Jackie/his mate) had our 6+ years with him.

Any of us who have second hand parrots should know; they don't lead the best of lives being shuttled from one home to another. Pokey was an extreme example, as our home was his 8th. Yes, you read that correct, 8 different homes by the time he was 11. Pokey was not a problem bird, either. Oh, he screamed a bit but that's how he managed to be fed in other homes. What Blue & Gold Macaw doesn't make noise anyway?

Okay, back to our loneliness. How are we dealing with our grief? At first, I felt sadness and cried a bit but realized that I had much more time with him than expected (Liver Disease). Grieving in various ways happens whether we are human or a pet. I am not a grievance counselor or an expert, but I certainly can list animal grieving on my resume. Now Jackie Big Red Bird has that on her resume, too. I watched her as she went through her grieving process. At first, she sat on her high perch barely moving for about a week. I had a hard time getting her to come off that perch. I talked to her a lot in a calm voice and mostly talked about Pokey. When his ashes came back, I showed her the container. (We all do silly things with our pets, so stop that laughing at me!!)

Finally about 3 weeks after his passing, Jackie began her new life. She hollers for me every morning and evening. Mornings (too early for me, of course) I have to get out of bed and get her and bring her into my bed or I must wake up. While we "hang out" in bed, she allows me to preen her pin feathers (for the very first time ever since she came into my life!). She even lays her head across my chest affectionately. She preens me too; likes to take that gigantic beak and tickle me on my arms. Of course in silly fashion, I laugh hysterically which makes her happy.

Today she actually laughed at DJ Goumba Johnny on the radio! In the evenings, she enjoys just hanging out with me while I open my mail. It only takes a few minutes and makes a big difference in our relationship. All of this interaction is our breakthrough. Jackie found her new way of dealing the loss of her mate. Tag, I'm it! I found a greater closeness with this big gigantic red bird which I never had before and we are both AoK!

Pokey was a very good companion, to Jackie and me. He was courageous and brave throughout his illness. We will never forget him but our outward physical grieving has come to an end. Life goes on. Now it's Jackie's turn to shine. If only she would stop chewing her feathers. We will work on that as she pulls the blanket over my head and laughs!

Article courtesy of Elise Negrin, Director of the Long Island Parrot Society of NY.Elise resides in Long Island with her Greenwing Macaw, A Congo African Grey and a Quaker parrot.