ftloosenfanzfree

I’m not really sure how to write this, but I’m hoping to see if there are others who can speak to having felt what I am currently feeling—or not feeling as the case may be.

We had to put our cat down this past Saturday, July 18.

I’ve had my Raffles since I was 14.  She has been my best friend for almost 17 years and I loved her to the point of near obsession.  My husband and I got together because we have a ton of the same interests and hobbies, but once we moved in together it was not long before it felt like pretty much the only thing we ever talked about was how cute our cat was and how much we loved her.

She was extremely easy to take care of for pretty much her whole life, and then a couple of months ago she started eating less and less until she was not eating at all.  Then it became a nightmare of vet visits and a horrible cycle where not eating led to things like dehydration and constipation which just made her want to eat even less.  The vet couldn’t really find any particular issues other than suggesting it may be early kidney disease, but it didn’t really make sense how *bad* things were for how mild her kidney issues were.  We ended up having some issues with that vet, but to make a long story short we ended up at a specialist who told us there was a tumor behind her eye that was making it physically difficult and/or painful to open her mouth and that’s why she wasn’t eating.  They said it looked like it had metastasized to her lungs and told us they could put her down or we could bring her home for a little while longer to spend some final time together before saying goodbye.  We chose the latter and it seemed at first like we might be able to keep her going with syringe feeding, but things quickly took a turn for the worse and it became clear that it was time to say goodbye.

For the first two days I was a mess.  But by Wednesday I felt… more okay than expected.  Like TOO okay.  When we were preparing for the end, I was really worried that I would fall completely apart because I honestly could not even remember a time before she was in my life.  And now, less than a week after her passing, I feel like I’m already struggling to remember what it was like when she was here!  I expected that nights would be the hardest because that’s when we had our best snuggles.  But the other night I was lying in bed and actively trying to remember what it felt like when the bed shook slightly as she climbed up and walked with her little paws over my body to lie on my chest or by my side… and I just couldn’t.

For the last few weeks, we spent *hours* every day taking care of her.  I don’t understand how it can already feel basically normal not having a cat around.

I know everyone grieves differently but I feel like it seems objectively way too soon for that.  I cannot possibly have finished grieving already!  Additionally, I had been wondering if I would need to unfollow all the cat reddits etc after she was gone because I thought pictures of other cats might make me too upset but now when I see pictures of other cats I sort of feel… not much?  Like I was previously very “LOVE ALL THE CATS!!!” and now when I look at pictures of cats they just aren’t really doing it for me.

So basically, I’m worried that my brain has like buried memories and emotions down as some sort of defense mechanism or something?  I just feel like that can’t be healthy and like it’s going to come out in unexpected ways.  Like I’m sort of crying as I’m trying to write this out but it feels like my brain doesn’t really know *why* it’s crying.  I know it’s normal for depression to result in a sort of numbness, but I don’t feel like I’m depressed in any other areas of my life?  Can you have like super targeted depression that just numbs certain feelings?  Or maybe I’m just wrong about what depression feels like and that’s the simple answer to what’s happening after all?

I guess I’m hoping to find ways to force myself to confront more emotions if they’re buried down, and to make sure I don’t forget my best friend so quickly.  I am not sure what I should do.  There’s a “cat café” in my city that I plan to go to in a couple of weeks.  I’m hoping that petting some cats in person will remind me why I love them so much since looking at pictures is apparently not cutting it.

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ftloosenfanzfree
Well "funnily" enough, after writing and posting this I had a huge, sobbing breakdown.  So clearly my suspicions about pain and sadness buried somewhere in my brain were correct.  I guess now I have to figure out healthy ways to access that (thank you for this venue which was apparently a good place to start) and try to find the middle ground between feeling nothing and feeling so much that I can't breathe.
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P_Mom
I'm so sorry for the loss of your lifelong companion.  Clearly there was a lot of love. Yes, I do believe it's a defense mechanism. You're likely in shock - I experienced a similar feeling (yet cried every day, often), but at first I was surprised as I thought I'd be far worse.  Well, a few weeks went by. The shock (and for me denial) wore off and reality set in.  Really set in and was very tough.  I'm at 5.5 months losing my 15 yr old pup I had since he was weeks old.  My longest (and healthiest) relationship and I'm 45.  It's still tough and I cry everyday, but days are creeping in where I can have a good memory over his last few months.  I actually still feel in shock or a fog.  My experience and maybe you will feel differently, but it's a very recent loss.  Whatever you're feeling though is natural and just be gentle with yourself.  You've been through so much and caregiving and seeing the decline is so difficult.  Sending condolences and love your way. 
Jennifer
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ChantillyCat
@ftloosenfanzfree

First of all, I'm so sorry for your loss of your childhood fur baby. Raffles. I can tell that you had a very special bond and that you loved her very much. As P_mom said, I definitely think shock and denial are part of the grieving process. Burying your feelings is a way for your brain to protect you from getting flooded with overwhelming grief. And it's normal for everyday to look different. Certain things will trigger you and will make you cry. Other things may seem easier to handle. Talking about it definitely helps. As you mentioned in your second post, your first post may have allowed you to process Raffle's death in a way that triggered a breakdown full of tears. It will likely take a while to process all of the different emotions. Please don't feel like you're doing anything wrong. Everyone's grief process is different and extremely personal. Sending you healing light.💕
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Bichonz
I'm so sorry about losing your Raffles. I also sometimes feel a bit numb and unfeeling when I think about my Mickey. I agree that our seeming lack of feeling is a faulty defense mechanism that is trying to protect us from a perceived lack of control (crying, etc.). I think that until we let it out, we will never fully "heal" (where we can think back and be sad, but not necessarily in an uncontrolled way).  I'm glad you were able to express your grief and love for Raffles.

I am doing two things that are helping me: I'm going through all the pictures I have of him and his brother Joey, and am going to have a photobook made. I'm also going to do a new strip in an old webcomic I published, in honor of Mickey. When I finished the dialogue of all 4 panels, I broke down. That helped me relax a little, I've been on edge all day (today is his 3rd week anniversary).
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snrein1016
Thank you so much for sharing this. Something similar happened to me, and I thought I was going crazy. In my situation, it was the day after my James had died and my naturopath gave me a remedy to help with my grieving. As soon as  I took it, all my feelings of sadness and grief totally dried up. It was the hardest at the beginning because I was holding all this grief in my body and was unable to express or feel it. What I've been doing though is forcing myself to feel something by looking at old pictures and writing from grief prompts at the end of the day. This is not what I wanted. It's been extremely difficult.

How have you been that past couple of days? I am sorry that this is the path your grief has taken. It only makes it more challenging.
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Darnell
There are so many different feelings. For awhile, I was numb, almost in shock. At a month out, boy do I cry. The sadness is here. Be gentle with yourself no matter what you are feeling. 
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ftloosenfanzfree
Thanks so much to everyone for sharing your similar paths with me!

One thing I have found that surprised me but does make sense I think is that physical exhaustion seems to leave me more emotionally vulnerable.  I have had a good streak going of running every other day during the pandemic and I came back from a run last week feeling really worn out and as soon as I got home I suddenly started crying.  It's weird but I think I'm going to lean in to that for a little bit, and try to push myself to feeling physically weak at the end of my runs and then poke around in my emotions and try to find the painful points and let them out.

It seems to be making small differences.  I definitely am finding other cats cute again for one thing.  Also, I still am struggling to actively remember a lot of things with Raffles but I caught myself twice in the last couple of days nearly falling back on an old habit of yelling up the stairs to her about something my husband was doing.  I used to sing to her a lot and I think I'll be keeping my eyes/ears open for signs of starting to accidentally sing her a song; I think that would be a big clue that I'm not blocking it all out.

I suspect this will be a long process but I'm going to try to keep chipping at the walls my brain is putting up because I don't want to put the grieving off until later.
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Bichonz
Good for you, taking steps to let your grief out. I think it makes perfect sense that when we're physically exhausted that our mental defenses get weak.

I am currently writing a letter to Mickey, trying to remember all the things that he did that made him so lovable. I fully expect to start crying when I get to the section dealing with the cancer diagnosis, his rapid decline, and his final passing. I hope that will let me sleep better, because I'm not holding back all my sadness.

(Apropos of emotional control, I am a big fan of Star Trek and my hero was Spock. It's no wonder that I try to clamp down on showing my emotions.)
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