How To Survive The Loss of a Pet
Dealing with the loss of a beloved pet can be extremely devastating! Before I adopted my cat from the ASPCA in 2009 I never really understood how close a pet can get to you. My cat (who I named Cat [don’t judge]) was truly one of my best friends, and the loss of him over a year ago has left a definite void in my life. To be honest, I knew I was in trouble the moment I adopted him! Having never had a cat I was totally unprepared for how finicky, smart and bossy they can be. While I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, I just want to share how I was able to cope.
Let Go of the Guilt
This was probably the hardest thing for me to do, and I still sometimes question the decision I made to let the vet put Cat down. At the time of his death Cat was eight years old, and while he had some health issues, I never imagined that he would get seriously ill so early in his life. On April 28, 2016, I got home from work, and Cat was his usual self (i.e. fighting with our English Bulldog and sleeping), so was not at all worried about him. However, as we all got ready for bed, I noticed that I could not find him anywhere.
As time passed we realized that he was in his litter box crying, and could not get out. To make a long story short, Cat had a seizure that ended in him losing mobility in his back legs. My husband and I rushed out of the house with him, and thankfully found an all night vet office to check him out. That night I had to make of the hardest decisions of my life! With two children in my home and all the responsibilities they create, I could not in good conscience decided to spend thousands of dollars on “fixing” Cat. The vet’s honest answer that Cat would probably have another attack like this in the future also made it clear that I not load my family down with such a bill. The decision was made!
I know that not all pet parents might have the option to be with their pet as they’re put to sleep, but I’m so grateful that I was able to. My husband and I were given a few minutes with him before the nurse came back with the “stuff”, so we spent it cuddling him and telling him how much we loved him. I have to admit that I was beside myself at this point, and I could tell my husband was extremely worried about me. While he had grown close to Cat in the nearly two years they’d lived with one another, Cat was my baby, and my grief was absolute. Having never been big on the idea of kissing my pets, I kissed Cat (not on the mouth) repeatedly until it was time for him to be injected. As hard as it was, I could tell he was in so much pain, and knew I could not let him linger like that. My true advice to anyone in this situation is to stay with your pet no matter how much it might hurt you! I truly feel that Cat was comforted by this, and that I would always wonder what really happened to him if I did not see him through to the end.
The vet we went to had a service that would cremate your pet, then bring the ashes to us if you requested them. I definitely wanted Cat’s ashes, and honestly did not feel right until the service brought the tiny white urn to me. I was in shock when it was handed to me! How could my fat cat be in such a little container?! I started thinking right away on what kind of tribute I could make for Cat, and seriously considered a tattoo before deciding on a piercing. On my 34th birthday (the first birthday I celebrated without Cat for almost a decade), I had my daith pierced. Once it healed, I started to search for the perfect earring that would represent Cat, and finally settled on a custom-made piece. The Body Gems Meow Ring stood out to me right away, and I found a local piercing studio that could order it for me (individuals cannot order from Body Gems directly). I chose a black rhodium finish with crystal clear gems in the ears. This was of course in homage to Cat’s distinctive black and white coloring. I’m in love with it, and actually started to tear up once it was put into its permanent home!
For anyone reading this that is grieving the loss of a pet, let me first say how sorry I am for your loss! Secondly, don’t let anyone make you feel that because the grief is centered around a pet that it doesn’t matter. I had quite a few people try to make me feel like I was nuts because I mourned Cat so deeply. If they can’t understand it themselves, then trying to explain it to them is pointless! Hopefully this post has helped you in some way, but I know it has helped me to talk about Cat and how much he meant tome.
See you on the Rainbow Bridge sweetheart!