Cupcake
This is long, but I need to write it out.

I had to say goodbye to my old girl last week. She was my companion and support for 15 years. It was just the two of us, both of us suffering from anxiety.  I'm completely heartbroken and although I knew it would hurt, I never dreamed it could hurt so much or that the guilt would take me to such dark places. I can't eat or sleep, and sometimes can't even breathe when I think of her last day. I keep ruminating on all the ways I let her down.

I knew she was sick because she was losing weight and had stopped eating, despite my efforts. When I realized it wasn't going to pass I finally called the vet, thinking she might have an infection or stomach issue. I lucked into a last minute appointment that day.

They couldn't find anything wrong from the initial exam, so they wanted to run some tests. They said they would keep her overnight to do bloodwork and xrays, and would call me in the morning. This is the hardest part for me to process. I had never expected them to take her overnight. I was so frazzled that I just said yes, thinking it was necessary to find out what was wrong. I never stopped to explain how anxious she would be. I never explained that I hadn't tried to give her her supper yet. I never asked if keeping her was necessary and if I could go back and get her later that night after they did the tests. The vet called an hour later to ask if I would agree to a consult with a radiologist because the xray found something in her lung. He'd send them the xray and he might get the results back in an hour or the next morning. He told me she was doing fine and that he had done the other tests, he just hadn't finished looking at them.

My ride was just dropping me off at this time (the vet is in the next town over). I keep thinking that I could have asked if I could take her home then. My ride would have been understanding if I had asked to go back, but the thought didn't register until later---everything was moving so fast. I literally stayed up all night crying, thinking of her being scared and alone and wondering why I never asked. What if I had misunderstood and she was waiting for me to get her? Did I prolonged stress unnecessarily?

I called the vet first thing to check up on her and asked if I could go get her then. The assistant was understanding and told me the doctor would call me with an update soon. He did. On the phone he explained that she had lung cancer and was in pain. The best I could do was take her home and try to prolong the inevitable with drugs and an appetite stimulant, but that it may also be time to consider letting her go.

We ended her pain at the vet. From the way he reassured me that it was the right decision, I understood how sick she really was. I don't regret that decision at all. I'm dealing with her absence in my own way and know I'll slowly adapt to life without her --comforted that I ended her pain before it only got worse. I just struggle daily with the way I let it happen. I keep thinking of how I let her spend her last night sick, scared, and alone in an unfamiliar place. It started with a hurried scramble into the carrier to make the last minute appointment, thinking we'd be home later, but she ended up being there for 18 hours by the time I was able to compose myself and get there for her final moments.

I did get to hold her for a while that final morning and she purred and leaned into me for scratches, but I could see how stressed she was. I wanted to take her home to give her a special comforting last day so bad, but knew it was selfish. She had lung cancer and was struggling to breathe. She was throwing up foam, and although I could tell she was hungry, she couldn't eat and hadn't eaten enough in days. When they weighed her, she had lost a quarter of her bodyweight. All the little things I had refused to see for so long came together and I understood how sick she was. No drug could stop her discomfort soon enough, and her overnight stay had just made it worse.

I'll eventually come to terms with her loss, but I fear that the guilt of leaving her there overnight will haunt me for the rest of my life. No matter the justification for it, it doesn't change that her last day was spent in fear and there's nothing I can ever do to take that back. I'm just praying that when I get her ashes back and can finally take her home, I'll get some sort of closure, but I don't know how to deal these thoughts if not.

Does the guilt ever go away?
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Pisiciul
Dear Cupcake,

We are in the same boat.

Telling you how sorry I am for your loss won't help you much as it won't help you either hearing that your girl had a wonderful  and long life with you. I know that almost nothing worked in my case. And you know why? Because we know, deep down our hearts, we know all the good things about it. What worries us now is the uncertain side at the end of our babies lives. 

I lost my boy on Friday, a beautiful soul. He was also loosing weight and looking a little lost. I was worried so I rushed for a vet check that afternoon. Apparently the stress was a little too much for his little heart. He was back to "all good" once we got home, I gave him his favorite meal and minutes later he went in my bed for his regular siesta after the delicious dinner. It was routine, nothing different from any other day. But then I heard a noise. Thinking he was climbing some stuff and everything collapsed, I went to check on the situation. Couldn't see him anywhere and no other visible damage. I looked in other rooms as well - nothing. Came back to the bedroom as I heard some weak noise like he was coughing. He was hidden under the bed, laying on a side and gasping for air. I didn't realize he was in trouble so I called him as usual but he didn't look up at me. Then... then it's that sharp pain in the heart when you know. You know something is terribly wrong. TERRIBLY. I asked my husband to come right away, I didn't dare to grab him out. In my husbands hands he was lifeless. His eyes were not his eyes anymore and his body was all soft and hanging. I could only moan "What's wrong with you, baby? Baby!".

While my husband was trying CPR on him, I rushed to make an emergency call. My hands were shaking and could barely press the buttons when hubby said "You don't need to call anymore, there's nothing to be done..."

I came back to face the cruel reality. Our boy was gone. But it's so hard to accept and understand.

I blame myself for taking him to the vet. Everybody says I did the right thing because I wanted him to be well. Hearing the very sad news and seeing the blood test results the next morning, the vet suggested HCM, a fatal and hidden heart disease. He assured me it would have happened at any time now. But how's that even possible, I thought. My boy was Superman, never been sick, lived 17 years and we agreed on breaking the record. And why was I rushing to see the vet? Why on Friday? Why not some other time? Because I saw him melting and I wanted to get a treatment before everything would close because of the coronavirus problems.

Just like you, there's blame on me. But, we did what we thought it would be the best for them so we can get our babies healthy. Unfortunately, there's never fun at clinics or hospitals. At least you called your doc home, which I blame myself for not doing it to reduce the stress. The guilt should go away, Cupcake, as we are not really to be blamed. We loved our babies and would have NEVER done anything to harm them or cause them pain, stress or fear. 

Here, were pretty addicted to each other, always looking for one another and expressing love in the sweetest and childish ways possible.

Last year we moved from Romania to the UK. Our plans included him as a priority. There was not even for a second, any idea of leaving him behind, with my mom for example. We drove for three days, crossed 8 European countries with our baby in the car. Sadly, flight companies refuse pets in/out UK. A silly law but, oh well, we adapted. 

He was everywhere. He still is. He is in my blood and in my heart. We buried him the next day in a nice place, with sun and a little shadow, where he can hear the birds and the wind. We've given him all of his mice toys and balls, his fav wet food and two red roses.

The hardest part now is to cope with the thought I left him in a dark and cold grave, far from me. Far from mommy. How can I apologize to him the best way? How can I make him hear me?..
Pisiciul
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Pennysforevermom
Cupcake and Pisiciul,
I'm so sorry for your loss. I understand how you feel. I lost my baby on Saturday. She passed away at the vet. I'm still in shock. But I will say this. Both of you did the right thing by taking your babies to the vet when you noticed that they needed medical attention. That's what any loving parent would do. I'm praying that our babies are running around in heaven with renewed bodies free from disease....waiting on us to be reunited with them. It hurts so much. I still, have her bed in the same spot because it brings a little comfort.
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Molly4always

I lost my kitty to lung cancer in January.  She was eating well just like yours but I just thought she was being finicky.  She acted normal otherwise until the day she started to have trouble breathing.  I took her to the vet and her lungs were filled with fluid. They drained the fluid and the pathology report said she had cancer and the vet said there was no treatment and I should let her go.   By that time she was barely eating and I knew she was suffering do I said goodbye to Molly the next day.  I felt so guilty for not bringing her in sooner.  Did I have her euthanized too soon? The guilt was overwhelming; I felt like I totally failed her.  But as time passed so did some of the guilt when I realized that I did what I thought was best for her.  We all do what we think is right but then second guess ourselves even though we acted out of love.  


The vet had talked about keeping her overnight but they changed their mind.  I would have let them just like you did.  You are not at fault for doing what your vet recommended.  You had no way of knowing that was her last night.  I’m sure you would have done things differently if you had known.  I know for now all you can think about is how she suffered and died. It was the same for me.   But those memories of my kitty’s pain have started to subside and now I think more of her life and love for me.  Looking at her pics reminds me that she had a great life.  That gives me comfort when I think I failed her.

Your baby is not in pain anymore.  And she is flying free.  Your love for her is obvious and I’m sure she loved you, too. That bond can never be broken.

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Memories_of_Marmalade
Dear Cupcake,

I'm so saddened and sorry to read of your recent loss of your beloved. The great love and adoration you shared for her is so obvious in all of your words. I am also sorry that you are experiencing the grief that you are, along with coping with guilt, remorse and regret. 

What you did was put your little girls welfare first, by allowing her to stay overnight at the Vet's. It is no different than a human being very ill and having to spend the night in the hospital. You wanted the best for your girl and you were looking after her as best you could, under the dire and stressful circumstances. You were in shock at the time and you trusted professionals to do what they could.

She knew that she wasn't well and knew that you were trying to help her. She didn't blame you in any way. Thus her greeting you warmly the way that she did the next morning. And she was no doubt on some kind of medication that final night which would have helped her to get some much needed rest. Even in a different place.

For her to have lived for 15 years is extraordinary. As you may know, a cats natural lifespan (in the wild or out on the street) is only around 2 to 5 years. We automatically extend their lives by providing them with shelter (from the weather and natural predators), regular food and fresh water, trips to the Vet's (for treatment and medication etc.) and love and affection (which is so important for their wellbeing.) You provided not only all these to your cat for 1 1/2 decades, but you also provided her with devoted companionship and a sense of purpose. You two were your own colony. A colony of 2, and I'm sure she wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

If there is one thing I have learned here on this forum over many months, is the following: "There are no right answers." It seems like no matter what choices we make in the end for our beloved pets, we always second guess them. It is just a very sad and painful part of our grieving process. But with time it DOES begin to pass for the majority of us, and you realize that you did your best with what you had to deal with at the time. As you did. That much is certain.

I hope you continue to travel through time and heal the best you can. You have a built-in healing mechanism that will work if you just continue to allow it to do so the way that you are doing. Please just be gentle with yourself during these difficult times. Eventually all that will remain are your fondest and most cherished memories of your sweet, dear and wonderful cat. I promise.

What matters in the end is not the final hours of your cats life, but all the time inbetween her birth and her passing. Which amounts to many hours, days, nights, weeks, months and years. Countless moment and memories made up of joy, companionship, safety, comfort, happiness, contentment and love. All cats should be so blessed. All humans should as well. I am grateful that your paths crossed with your beloved when they did all those years ago and that you both knew such a great love.

Kind regards & my sincerest condolences,
James
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Memories_of_Marmalade
Dear Pisiciul,

Like cupcakes words your words about your beloved boy are heartfelt, true and filled with love and affection. And devotion. How wonderul that you did not leave your cat behind when you moved (I decided the same with my cat "Marmalade" that I would never, not ever leave him behind.)

Your beloved is not in a dark, cold grave sweetheart. As you wrote: 

"He was everywhere. He still is. He is in my blood and in my heart. We buried him the next day in a nice place, with sun and a little shadow, where he can hear the birds and the wind. We've given him all of his mice toys and balls, his fav wet food and two red roses."

Just look at the sentimental, kind, loving, gentle words you used in your writing above and the gracious gestures you provided to your boys final resting place. How blessed was he to have known such great love in his lifetime. He is with you in spirit, always. 

Kind regards and my sincerest condolences,
James
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swinginggride
Words can't express how saddened I am to hear of your loss. Let time heals the pain...hugs...
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Pisiciul
Dear Memories_of_Marmalade, your kind word were balm for my crying heart. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time for us here, trying to give us comfort. I'm sorry for your loss and believe me, we all know what it means to feel the your heart breaking to pieces. 

Five days later and it's still incredibly difficult. I can watch some videos with him, look at his photos, look at the places he used to sleep and just stare with an empty chest and tear-less. What's killing me, though, is every little thing I do, the every day routine, you know, when I was seeing him checking on me: what are you doing there, mommy? what's that? let me sniff. And these moments make me burst into tears because he's not coming anymore. It was in my gestures to do everything to protect him and now I don't want to "relax". 

I understand he didn't suffer, I understand he lived a long life and he was loved by us here, I understand he was not abandoned or hurt.
But, I miss him. 
Pisiciul
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Cupcake
Thank you all for your kind words and shared stories. Each and every comment and story has brought me a little comfort and has helped me recognize and understand my emotions a little better. I have lost pets before, once even traumatically in a house fire, yet I have never experienced grief like this.

Pisiciul: It's amazing how much their presence affects our lives. So many of my habits revolved around my girl. Ever since I lost my cat in a fire all those years ago, I made it a ritual that anytime I left the apartment I'd pet her goodbye, tell her I loved her, and assure her I'd be home soon. Even when I was running late, I made sure to take the time to find her before I left. I always feared not having that closure if something happened.

As each day passes I'm finding it a little easier to accept my role and what I could and couldn't control. I've coped with anxiety my entire adult life, constantly playing out  worst cases and "what ifs", but my girl was my support animal. Being such an anxious kitty herself, we were perfect for each other. I think the hardest part is that she has been my support through every sudden or stressful life event since I was 15. When I couldn't control what was happening, I always had the comfort of knowing she was there. She was constant. It sounds so silly, but I feel like I could cope with her loss if only she were still with me.  I've lived "alone" for a long time, but this is the first time I've ever felt lonely.

Connecting with others has been a blessing. Given the state of the world right now, it's even harder to go about our normal lives and heal, and our empty homes stand as reminders of what we've lost. The support is so heartening at this time. Thank you all.


 
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