Reading stories from this forum has been so comforting to me in my loss. Page upon page of stories, all different and unique in their particulars, but united in a common experience, eases the pain a little and makes the process feel less frightening. The enormity of the grief, how terrifying it is, especially in the beginning, the horror of trying to get through the next moment, crying all day long, missing them at every turn, the guilt over not making the time for them (even if we doted on them and lavished excess time on them!), the guilt over treatment decisions (even if we spent more on their care than on our own), the certainty that no one will ever replace them in our hearts, the terror of going through this ever again... I read this in every story! It's touching. It's devastating.
The notion that everything will be fine if we just get another pet is laughable, like if you lost a child to just go out and get another kid. But people don't understand if they haven't loved a pet deeply and specifically. I used to think that people who treated their pets like children were a little pathetic. I didn't spoil my cat like I wouldn't spoil a child, but I fell in love with him hook line and sinker when I rescued him (an unplanned event, kismet!) and adored him every day of my life. And he was like my kid.
I certainly didn't understand grief. I think that I was maybe a little insensitive when others experienced grief at the loss of a loved one. I certainly didn't get it when my cousin's husband lost his dog - honestly, I was like, "Whatever, dude." And that was after my sweet boy was already in my life. I just had no idea what losing him would be like.
I now think that if you can weather the grief, that it can teach you about love in a way that nothing else can.
I used to think that death didn't frighten me - my own death doesn't, I've come close to dying and had major illness and worked through (what I thought was most of) my issues around death. I know in a visceral way that we continue on after death, and that love is eternal and we will find each other again. I also felt my boy tell me 4 or 5 months ago that he would have to leave soon (though I promptly went into denial and his death was a complete shock, even to the vet!). And for the two weeks leading up to his death, I had a song playing constantly in my mind: "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" by the Moody Blues (I know you're out there somewhere and someday I'll return again to you
). I'd like to believe this was his soul telling me he would find me again, even though I didn't connect the dots until after he died. But none of these things have made it any easier!!! And it was only reading all these stories on this forum that gave me a little relief, and a little peace.
I think, I hope, that I am past the worst stages - the ones where I worry about my sanity, worry I won't be able to stay alive in the world, shiver in terror at the world and its cruelty, feel certain that I'm marked for some new horror yet to come.
I loved my boy, I loved him so much! He was such a cool cat. He wasn't fancy, he wasn't good-looking, he wasn't talented, well - he gave very good lap, just so so sweet, he would sometimes lie and hug my leg when we were lying on the couch, wrap his front and hind legs around my leg with this sweet sweet little smile at the corners of his mouth. But he was a just a plain gray striped cat with a snipped ear from where he'd been neutered while he was feral. He showed up on the front steps of my apartment building one cold January day, and after ignoring his cries all day, I finally let him in. And that changed my life! I always said I saved him (he was in rough shape!) but he saved me. RIP my sweet boy.
Photo of my sweet boy around 6 months before he died.