Crows. Elephants. Bonobos. Chimpanzees. They all have something in common with humans besides a Creator. For quite some time, researchers and scientists have observed these species (and many others) exhibiting symptoms of grief.
But thanks to God, that’s where our commonality ends.
In April of 2013, one of TIME Magazine’s cover stories focused on the grief various animals experience when a member of their species dies. It has been observed in nature that some species show signs of depression in coping with loss while other beasts seem to have rituals for their dead. For example:
Chimps: Some chimpanzee mothers refuse to surrender a baby that has died. She may keep hold of the little body for days (or weeks), even though it may be decomposing.
Elephants: Pachyderms stay near the body of a dead herdmate long after death. The scenes at these elephant burial grounds almost resemble a wake; the other elephants trumpet the death of their kind. But elephants will also stop to caress and examine other elephant bones they come across, even if the deceased wasn’t from their herd.
Crows: These (usually) hateful black birds respectfully congregate around the lifeless bodies of flock members. Surviving crows will sometimes even cover their dead with twigs and grass.
Bonobos: These primates experience fits of rage when facing the death of a troopmate. The living will sometimes throw rocks at their dead or pound on their chest in frustration, before beating on their own chests.
Dolphin: When a pod suffers the loss of a young dolphin, the mother will often push the dead carcass in front of her as she swims.
Domesticated Animals: Dogs and cats may languish and refuse food when a playmate dies (human or animal). Signs of sorrow have even been seen in common farm animals, including goats, pigs, and ducks.
Like these animals mentioned above, humans also experience grief when death looms over us. But unlike them, we have a hope that offsets and overcomes that grief because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Consequently, the Apostle Paul taunted death 2,000 years ago by asking, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Death is not the end for us. Our grief can be relieved through Him.
Jeffrey Kluger. “The Mystery of Animal Grief.” TIME Magazine, April 15, 2013: Pages 40-45.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)