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Grief in our garden



On a late Autumn morning, we woke from slumber to draw open the blinds. It's a happy daily ritual because the bedroom overlooks distant hills as well as the products of our vegetable and fruit growing. There is a reason to get up every morning when you are privileged to have this classic Australian landscape in your backyard.


But today was different. At the bottom of our paddock stood a fox, as large as a young Labrador. It was hard to see the detail, but we knew it held something in its mouth. Only when we fetched binoculars, did we realise that a young kangaroo hung from the fox's jaws.


Rob raced down the paddock but of course it was too late. He disturbed the fox enough that it left without its prey, but the joey was well beyond help. The joey's mother and a large male kangaroo stood nearby, but allowed Rob close enough to check the state of the young body.


Grieving kangaroo
The grieving kangaroo watches over its joey

Now it is some hours later. The joey's mother remains in our paddock, standing over her dead child. It is heartbreaking to witness. Though I have seen documentaries of grieving wildlife, I have never seen it firsthand. Kangaroos are highly social herd animals and I know, watching this mother, that she is bereft and in shock.


I wish I could comfort her but of course, there is nothing that assuages this type of grief. It is numbness, it is disbelief, it is profound sadness.


It is a stark reminder that loss is so painful. May this mother kangaroo grieve as long as she needs, which will be forever.


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