Every time she walked past the cage, she heard him first. The one who was running on the wheel and seemed to be a bit hysterical or manic. She was never quite sure which it was. She was no trained rodent biologist after all. So she made sure the food and water were fresh, the straw was dry and clean. Made sure everyone seemed alert and cozy. All of them seemed to be, except one little runt, way back in the corner. She petted each and every one of the rodents equally, except the noisy one and the runt. They got more pets. Her pets to the noisy one were always about thanking him for the reminder to check on the group. And the little runt because she was worried about him. They had all lost their mom, but he seemed to be the one who was pining for her. Every other seemed to be coping ok. Or was the endless attention seeking a need as well?
She wished she knew more about rodents. But there weren’t a lot of resources where she lived. She just had her instincts. And they said, cosset them both. They were both saying they needed help in their own way.
Some of the rodents were rutting in the corner, and she sat nearby till they were done and then gave them a treat and a pet. She knew when she was sad that she wanted to feel alive in someone’s arms. So she wondered if the rodents might feel the same way. Some slept more than others and those she made sure got a cozy part of the cage.
She knew all her sisters and brothers had done different things to recover when their mom had died, so she watched closely to see what outlying behaviour was going on. Then act in a primal way to cosset the need. Some did repetitive things and some just lay and missed her, watching the others as if they were nuisances to their peace. She gave the active ones something fun to do, to curb their obsessions. And to the quiet ones, she covered them and set a soothing music to comfort them. Petting them when they sighed in their dreams.
Some of te rodents wanted to be alone, or as alone as they could be. And when they were feeling oppressed by the others’ presence, they got snappy and bitey to chase the others away. And some would want to snuggle up with their mates and never let go. She watched for the extremes and petted them and gave them extra attention. She felt almost like a cowboy or wrangler, working the herd. But these were all grieving rats. And she knew not one of them felt good about missing their mom. But yet they were all acting differently. So she just watched and reassured them that she was there. She had missed that most as the quiet child, when her mom had died. Everyone assumed she was ok, but her insides were twisted up, like a knotted rope. And to this day, she still had phantom stomach pains. But no one understood. Just how isolated she had felt then. They still thought she was crazy, cuzz she never reacted outwards like they had. Which is why she watched the rats so closely and never presumed the behaviour of an outlier was a good thing. She thought they all needed attention and love now. So she made sure they all got it.
After all, their mom had just died and they felt so alone. Orphanned. She knew that feeling. She was glad she was the carer of these poor little souls. Someone had to be.
## . . . . grief
[Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross][http://www.amhc.org/58-grief-bereavement-issues/article/8444-stage-of-grief-models-kubler-ross]
Everyone expresses their grief in their own way. And in their own time.