It was back in 1975 that Robert Pyle gave a name to a phenomenon that was becoming more common as our cities grew larger and their citizens were increasingly distanced from having any experience with the natural world. The “extinction of experience” wrote Pyle breeds apathy towards environmental concerns and inevitably degradation of the common habitat that we all depend on. The loss of human-nature interactions has come at a price. From an end of life perspective, what was once seen as normal has been replaced with denial and fear and from a planning ahead standpoint, procrastination.
This story about a very ordinary event has an authentic ring about it. Amanda Blair reports in Farewell furry friend (Australian Women’s Weekly, September 2018, page 94), that it was early one morning when her son found his pet guinea pig Jack, dead.
While this was the extinction of Jack, it was an event for the family that allowed for the process of dealing with death to be experienced first hand. And it is interesting to see what happened.
“I dug a grave near the lemongrass bush because this was Jack’s favourite spot … My son wasn’t prepared to put Jack in the ground immediately. He needed time to say his proper goodbyes before he went one foot under. Respecting his need for closure, a shoebox filled with straw became a lovely coffin …. The neighbourhood kids came around for open shoebox viewings and to pay their last respects and after seven days I told my son to say goodbye to the goodbyes – it was time to let him go,” said Blair.
This is the gist of the story. It’s one that is lacking in many households as high rise and apartment living take over from rural settings and the suburban block. While this brief note refers to the human-nature experience it applies also to the human-death experience. Extinction of experience – a brief note