Brothers and Sisters, we gather together today to commemorate the short–but well-lived–life, and mourn the untimely and tragic death of Ernie, the Parakeet. 

Purchased from the local Petsmart, Ernie quickly became a treasured member of the family.

Wolfie especially loved Ernie, and, Oh, how Ernie loved living in his cage next to the TV.

Until one sad morning.


I was asleep when Wolfie whispered in my ear, “Ernie is seeping.”

I mumbled back a thoughtful, “mmm hmmm” while attempting to roll over and ignore him.

But Wolfie persisted. He tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mommy, Ernie is seeping on the bottom of his cage.”

Instantly, my eyes flew wide open.  Ernie “seeping on the bottom of his cage” could mean only one thing.

I leapt up and sprinted to the cage.

And there was Ernie lying feet up, dead as a doornail.

Wolfie triumphantly pointed to Ernie and said, “See Mommy, Ernie is seeping!”

Already rigamortisized, I groaned inwardly and silently thought to myself, “When was the last time I fed that bird?”

But there wasn’t any time for rumination or regrets.  Rachel was now awake and wandering over to see what was going on.

I felt overcome with emotion.

Yes, I was a little broken up that our cheap, little parakeet from Petsmart had kicked the bucket in the night–quite possibly from starvation–but I swallowed my heart realizing that my children were facing death for the very first time.

I wished Daddy was home to share this special moment, but lucky Daddy was at work. I was going to have to tell them about death all by myself.

I pulled my children in close, and, in my saddest voice, said, “Sweethearts, Ernie isn’t sleeping. Ernie is dead.”

They gazed so trustingly up at me, the question written all over both of their tender, innocent faces, “Wha?”

“Ernie is dead. His soul is in heaven with God.” (Regardless of faith, what else are you going to say?)

Within moments, I had two sobbing children on my lap, along with a dead bird that needed disposing. All I could think was, “When is that Daddy going get home anyway?”

Scrambling for some way to comfort my heartbroken children, I offered, “We’ll have a funeral for Ernie. Okay?”

Of course, Rachel and Wolfie, who had no idea what a funeral even was, instantly thought this meant something positive and stopped crying quite so hard. We all decided we’d better call Daddy with the bad news. Overwrought with emotion, he asked Mommy, “When was the last time you fed that bird, anyway?”


After Daddy came home the funeral was planned. I donated my cherished 1990 Nordstrom’s box that had contained Daddy’s Christmas gift to me that year just for the occasion.

The Funeral

Grandpa carved the cross.

I didn’t even know Ernie was a Christian.

The sad processional to Ernie’s final resting place commenced.

Grandparents had shown up to pay their last respects. 

It was an open-casket funeral.

Doesn’t he look so natural?

Ernie was laid to rest.

Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.

Farewell, Ernie!


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethany September 11, 2012 at 11:51 am

My dad wasn’t one for animal funerals, to get to the shovel we had to go in our shed, where he prepared racoon and other animals’ skin for sale. But I have held a dramatic cat funeral for me and my sons.

Ramona the Wonder Cat passed away right before Christmas in 2009. It was terribly cold, and the ground was frozen. For months. Her body stayed on our deck, frozen, while we waited for the ground to thaw enough to dig a hole.

In early March, we went to my grandparents’ and buried my sweet kitty. I said a few words while my dh rolled his eyes, my then-8yo said a tearful goodbye, expressing his regret for pulling her tail when he was little, my then-4yo (the embodiment of his father’s deadly practical spirit) asked if the worms and bugs would eat her.

When dh put the first shovelful of dirt on her, all nostalgia and tenderness retreated: my then-2yo flipped *out*. Screamed, kicked, and sobbed in the way that agonized 2yo’s lose it. “Why Daddy?! Not my kitty! NO! No dirt on my kitty!”

Good times. Good times. I should have taken pictures.


Chloe September 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

OH MY! I can totally envision that dramatic scene. LOL. Poor kitty. It’s all fun and games until somebody shovels dirt onto your kitty.


Missus Wookie September 8, 2012 at 11:00 am

Did anyone ask to dig him up in a few weeks to see what had happened? No? Ah, that only happened at my house :sigh:
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Chloe September 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I guess it was wise that we buried him at grandma’s house then, huh? ‘Cause that sounds very, very yucky. But also like a great science opportunity.


Corinne Rodrigues September 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm

This makes me think of my niece and nephew who were visiting my parents quite soon after they had lost their maternal grandfather. My Mum’s dog was growing old and she wanted to prepare the children for his eventual death. Little did she realize that they would get excited about planning his funeral – on the lines of their grandfather’s – well before the poor dog actually passed on!
I think children get rituals much better than we do 😛
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Chloe September 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I agree. Somehow the ritual of it did help. My husband reminded me after I wrote this about the part where we had to sing Ernie’s favorite song: The Scarecrow Song from The Wizard of Oz.


Jamie@SouthMainMuse September 7, 2012 at 11:45 am

Growing up I had a little blue parakeet. Joe. He was a great pet. The heater broke in one part of our house and we left Joe back there one night. It was Florida — how cold could it get? Well, cold enough to send Joe sleeping on the floor of the cage – forever.
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Chloe September 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Poor Joe. My sincerest condolences. Did you feel very guilty?


Brenda September 7, 2012 at 10:50 am

Ernie was a quiet Christian, never shoving it in your face. I like that in a bird.


Chloe September 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

Apparently he didn’t have a Facebook page.
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