Animal Funeral Rituals
More research on funerals rituals for:
Baboons - get support from friends and show signs of depression.
Chimpanzees - carries dead child until, at times, the body is no longer recognizable.
Elephants - gather to pay respects, touching trunks to body and standing vigil for several days.
Giraffes - almost covering body with legs apart, licking, bending down, and just being with the body with no other giraffes around.
Langur Monkeys - they all gather around the dead, hugging and comforting each other, while sometimes touching body as if to pay respects to it.
Magpies - pecking gently, placing grass on top of the dead and standing around as if holding a vigil.
These creatures show us that death, funeral rituals and grief are all part of honoring and acknowledge that another has died.
Isn't this what we humans also want? A community (intimate or large) to collectively pay respects and walk us along this journey.
Discovery of how animals, similar to humans, have the desire to experience some kind of death ritual to help with the processing of the dead and the need to pay respects to the dead.
A lot of species have a "generalized response" to a death and it has been observed that creatures too, feel emotions such as sadness and grief.
Elephants, dolphins, chimpanzees, baboons, gorillas etc all gather information about the unresponsiveness of individuals around them, and then they tend to participate in some kind of death ritual.
Since it is still rare for humans to observe a natural death in the wild, we get to understand that this information that is being gathered, will continue to be added onto as time goes on.
However, it's an important reminder that not only it is rare for us humans to see a natural death (most deaths are from diseases or accidents) that we take the available evidence thats provided now, which suggest mourning does occur in the wild, and that we are not so unique in this sense.
Animals are mysterious and majestic, yet, if we allow ourselves to commune and observe them, then we can learn much more about life death, death rituals and grief.
I love animals, and I have always felt a kindred spirit with them. I love how they communicate, nonverbally, and yet it is obvious what they are feeling and saying to each other.
What if, we humans, could be as clear in our communication with loved ones, friends and strangers as animals, could we avoid some personality issues, could we be taken at face value, could we bring joy and happiness to situations?
Let us open our minds and our hearts to learning from these special beings and let's learn more, from this article, about what animals can teach us about being better human beings!
They respect their elders.
They exhibit signs of empathy and compassion.
They are nice to their neighbors.
They can sense others' feelings.
They help each other out.
They can find love in a hopeless place.
They enjoy playtime.
They make love last.
They get by with the help from their friends.
When Animals Grieve
Scientist/biologist have had many sightings of different species that suggest various animals, marine life, fowl etc also grieve, just like humans.
Studying the intriguing life of animals, biologists have found that similar to humans, animals have strong bonds with others, and when experiencing a premature death, or a death, animals also pine for the dead.
Animals, such as elephants, gorillas, dolphins etc lead rich emotional lives and they too can act depressed by not eating and at the risk of starving themselves because of their grief.
We're learning more and more about animal behavior, including what some scientists believe is grief.
Witnessing animal death rituals makes me a true believer that a lot of different species also feel grief, and therefore, I feel they are great teachers for us humans to recognize that grief is a natural and normal emotion, regardless of what living being one is.
Are Other Animals Aware of Death?
Wildlife scientist believe humans are not the only species that recognize death.
Evidence shows that chimpanzees, elephants, crows/ravens, and jays often hold "vigil" over the body, giving the animals/birds time to recognize the transition from being alive to dead.
This is also very important for humans as well. This is why the Death Doula community often recommends that loved ones take time to be with their loved one, as it takes quite some time to begin to even process the death, even if it was "expected".
Dolphins often carry the dead calves to the surface of the water, trying in vain to get them to breath. They may also do this as it might possibly suggest that they are not ready to accept the death.
Elephants gather together. They nudge the dead. Does this mean they are trying to wake them up? Often, we humans try similar actions, such as wake up, please do not die or be dead.
Can we learn from these animals in that taking time and honoring this process can help us in our acknowledging of death? I think so.
Do Animals Understand Death?
Communal mourning in the animal world shows just how many wild animals feel emotions, even understanding death, i.e. "anthropomorphize" means to ascribes human forms or attributes to animals.
I've talked before how powerful community is when experiencing a death, and how it helps us to feel less alone. It turns out (not surprising) wild animals also understand when a pack member has died.
Numerous studies and significant evidence suggests that animal pay their respects, they hold vigils with other members, and they try to understand or process the death.
Some specified, especially birds, hold "funerals" for their dead relatives, as well as dolphins, domestic cats and elephants.
This evidence shows us how animals sense the importance of recognizing and acknowledging death, and taking the time to just "be" and not be in a rush to "get over it" and to "move on".
Let us learn from animals about life, death and grief!
Grief is not just a human emotion.
There has been studies showing that other animals experience grief as well as us humans.
Marc Bekoff, an American biologist spend his time researching animal emotions, including grief.
Wolves, giraffes, chimpanzees, whales/dolphins, elephants and many other species express emotions similar to grief, such as stress reactions dues to a death of a significant loved one, and therefore affecting their own psychological trauma or stress.
Ive seen elephants gather around the carcass of a family member, nudging at the bones and trying to understand and process what has happened. A safari guide explaining that these members will often stay with the body until they have, what seems to us humans, acceptance of the death.
I love how wild animals can show these emotions and decide when they are ready to move forward. How can we learn from these majestic beings?