Chicken Funerals and Other Rituals

Serena Ward
July 21, 2020 | 3 min read

This past weekend my family held a chicken funeral. Yes, you read that correctly. You see, our chickens, in addition to providing us with the freshest eggs around, are a part of our family. My kids see them as pets and they have thoughtfully named each one. This particular bird was also a loyal companion, always ready to help me dig for worms in the garden. I knew it was important for my family to spend some time thanking her and find a way to say goodbye.

I’ve been thinking a lot about loss and grief in this strange, new time. I don’t think it’s a leap to say that everyone I know has suffered some sort of loss during this pandemic. The losses range from missed celebrations and daily connections to jobs and lives and everything in between. With those losses come a sense of grief that can be hard to pin down.

How do you grieve the loss of a person from your daily life who is still very much alive?

How do you honor life’s big moments without the celebration?

How do you find closure for things that have ended without an end?

I think this is a time to create new rituals and to be intentional about the rituals and routines we already practice.

So much has changed in our world since the beginning of the year that time feels a bit like sand, constantly shifting underfoot. Just when I think I’ve found my footing, the ground beneath me shifts again. I’ve begun to put my focus on the things that don’t change despite the passage of time.

Every morning starts the same way for me and has for my entire adult life. As soon as I get up in the morning, before the day can properly begin, I make coffee. The time I spend waking up and savoring my cup of coffee is a sacred time. My family has learned to provide me with ample space and quiet until I’ve at least gotten through a single cup of coffee.

I will admit that there have been moments during the past few months when I would wake up and my brain would instantly switch into high gear, a sense of panic and dread would start to overtake me and I would think,

“I don’t know how I’m going to….”

“What if…?”

“When will we…?”


Coffee first.

There’s time for panic later.

But I didn’t panic later. The simple intentionality of that cup of coffee helped me make my way to the next thing, followed by the next thing, and the thing after that.

There is so much unpredictability in what’s to come and each day brings new challenges, and yet, I find the predictability of my routines reassuring. I know that my children will ask for snacks approximately 20 times a day, my garden will need weeding, there will be messes to clean up, laundry to do, dirty dishes even though I just washed them all, and chickens that need to be fed.

Time keeps passing, we will suffer losses and we will find new and creative ways to grieve.

But first, coffee.