A few years ago, an incredible teacher at Helen and Connor's Waldorf School wrote a story for the school newsletter. She gave an update on how the class was going and then mentioned that on one of their walks, the children had come upon a dead bird. The class paused, took a moment to discuss the bird, and then decided that they would bury it.
They held a small burial ceremony during which the children talked about how all living things eventually die, but mostly, the ceremony focused on having a moment of reverence for the bird. That story touched my soul and I vowed then that I would try and show respect to once living animals that I came across with Helen and Connor.
The problem is, I don't actually want a bunch of dead things buried in my yard. Mostly, I am terrified that another animal will come dig them up, which I think could be traumatic for everyone who witnesses the aftermath. Also, it just rubs me as wrong playing soccer and baseball on top of a bunch of buried birds, squirrels, and other small animals - and since the primary use of our backyard is as a playfield, this seems the likely outcome.
A few years ago, we found a dead squirrel. I led the burial of the squirrel by the gazebo in the back of our yard, and I honestly can't remember if anyone ever dug up the body and disposed of it in another manner.
Next, a bird died. Helen and I decided it should rest beneath the trees on the side of our yard. Our pet birds followed, and those Ed disposed of outside of our yard, and we just held a little ceremony at the side of the yard where the other bird was buried, and told Helen the birds were there.
The kids and Ed discovered some sort of rodent dead in our front yard a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure what they decided to do with it, though I'm confident Helen either requested it be buried or someone told her it was buried along with the birds. A few days ago, a bird must have run into the dilapidated greenhouse attached to our home, and died on the deck steps. Apparently the bird showed signs of life at one point, but by the time Helen and the babysitter could call and tell me what had happened, there was not point in calling animal control for assistance. So Helen added another dead bird to what seems to be a growing collection on the side of the house.
And so it is, that we now have a small animal cemetery with an unknown quantity of small animals buried on the side of our yard. Helen occasionally sprinkles some fairy dust over there. Somewhere, deep down, I'm just hoping this isn't all for naught. And that someday, Helen shows the compassion for my dead body that she shows to these small animals.
And also? I'm hoping that we run across fewer animal bodies in the next years. This is getting to be a little much!