Don't know if this belongs here.

I lost my cat 4 months ago. He was almost 24 and I'd been his primary caregiver for 4 years as his health declined. My sis was the other caregiver.

He was my best friend, child, brother... everything.  The only one who has loved me unconditionally despite my weaknesses and mistakes. 

I live with my folks with my siblings. But there was a lack of support to share in the caregiving. And now a lack of empathy for my grieving process. My first difficulty is that I'm not ready to properly pack or part with his things or anything related to the caregiving. We have tons of towels and underpads that I used to wash and recreate his beds everyday. I cannot part with even these things. Because they were so integral to his care. I have absorbed all of these, along with his toys, pillows etc, into my room - which became and remains a cluttered storeroom. I've had no energy to tidy my room and now I'm further boxed in.

Intellectually I know it's impossible and unhealthy to keep all of them forever.  But I'm just not ready. I do hope someday I can donate some of it but with Covid, people are reluctant to take used items. It would break my heart to have to throw anything away.

The next difficulty is with my mother. She's become mentally unhinged recently. She let go of a lot of the responsibilities of the 'mother' in recent years to focus on her own development and career.  No issue with that. But somehow when I became a caregiver and I unwittingly took over that 'mother'/household manager role, it upset her.  I had always felt invisible.  But because my family understood the importance of the caregiver work, I had a bigger physical and psychological space/leeway within the house. Even though I was fastidious about cleaning, the house was very cluttered and messy with cleaning items/paper products which we had to buy in bulk. My mother felt compelled to limit visits from friends/family because she is house proud, even though I told her she could simply tell people we were doing caregiving (to explain the mess).  So she resents that.  I feel like she blames me a lot for a whole variety of things.

Now that my caregiving duties are done, she's trying to forcefully claim back any perceived loss in control/territory/status by minimizing/getting rid of any remnants of it (caregiving) and me (the caregiver) and anything I changed or customized in places like the hall/kitchen/laundry area to facilitate my work. I knew that eventually the house would need to be cleared but what she's doing feels like a purge. Makes me feel sad.  But it's also unsurprising.  

My cat used to sleep in the balcony overnight, and his last bed and things are still there.  I have resisted ridicule and pressure to remove them (except momentarily, when I wash the the floor).

To me, it will always be his room.  He was with us as a kitten within years of us moving here.  I cannot remember a time it wasn't his room. I'd expressed my wish to honor him this way. But I don't know how long my family can abide.  My mother is already pressuring me.

These last few months I'd taken comfort in maintaining his room and just looking after myself.  People were keeping their distance.  Although I'm still crying every other day, I was slowly feeling better. Then my mother had a meltdown two nights ago over clearing up caregiving things in the house.  And it's like the oxygen got sucked out and the weight in my heart and body came back.  I feel very troubled. Like my peace of mind got stolen.

I have no desire to get caught up in my mother's issues and drama.  But I can't help the attachment to the things and places that remind me of my cat. I didn't know I would feel this way. Were it not for this, I would be better off planning how to escape from here.

I gave up everything to be a caregiver and I'm on a very slow, unknown path of trying to survive and live again and eventually create a life and a lifelihood. With my mother behaving as she is, the healing has just become significantly harder. Wish they would let me grieve in peace and on my own timeline.  Am very heartbroken.
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2E05C2CE-23C9-4C54-AEDB-8C6F792BBB4A.jpeg  Everyone needs their own time to heal. Hopefully amidst all the drama and issues you are forced to deal with, you can find quiet times alone to grieve appropriately. I lost my 18 year old cat Deeder a month ago. He had bladder cancer. Although I did put his bowls away, I still have his pads on my bed which have his scent. I have not been able to sleep in my bedroom yet that we shared. I do understand. You have to be ready to remove the items that were precious in life to them, even with humans. Praise to you for giving your cat so many long years of love. Sounds like he had a beautiful life. Some poor animals never get to know the happiness our senior cats experienced. His spirit will always be with you. Deeder was my best friend and I miss him terribly but I knew it was his time. When you have cherished them for so many years, it is difficult to say goodbye. At any age it’s hard but especially when they have been such a part of your life for that long. Celebrate his life in your heart, smile knowing his love is all around you still, and allow your self the peace to heal from your loss. Take time away from your stressful situation and regroup, even if it is to sit on a park bench and read. You did come to the right place with this forum. It in its self is a very healing place and you can express your feelings to animal people who truly understand your loss. May God grant you his peace which surpasses all understanding and give you comfort and rest.  God Bless, Jeanne
Jeanne Swift
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Lovely reply Jeanne...such good advice as always.

Love Ellen x
Ellen Hague
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Thank you, Ellen. 
Jeanne Swift
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Thank you for your kind words and sharing a picture of Deeder.  I'm sorry for your loss which is so recent.  And I can relate to what you said about not being able to be in the bedroom you shared with him, but in a somewhat different way. For a few months, I couldn't go past the pet section in supermarkets.  I used to make multiple trips in a week and it made me very sad that I no longer had a reason to be there.  I'm still learning not to feel sad about that.

Yes I do pray for the peace that surpasses understanding, a peace which the world cannot give.  It is such a precious gift to return to prayer through caregiving; would never have made it through without the blessings. 

I had felt that it wasn't the right space to share because my difficulties stem more from psychological and emotional issues, family difficulties, and the trauma from caregiver burnout and the palliative care journey, which are aggravating the grief and loss process.  If I had had a supportive and loving family who had participated more fully in the caregiving process, I would be handling this somewhat differently, I imagine.

I feel that my cat was lonely for a lot of his life.  And I regret that. We played with him and spent time but it wasn't enough. My mother was his original caretaker and I was in charge of his food which I cooked and did a meal prep for.  It was only once he started to get ill and develop mobility issues in the last 4-5 years that something changed in me and I stepped up to really look into his needs.  And then he couldn't get rid of me :)  But I couldn't do what I wanted to do for him which was to be his friend and support only.  Although the caretaking role allowed me to still be there for him, it also caused immense burnout and pushed me out of my right mind.  Regretfully I took it out on him sometimes. It's a large part of why I hurt now.  The very thing I was doing for him that was necessary was the same thing keeping me away from what I wanted to be for him and what he needed me to be.  There's a sense of purpose not being fulfilled even we did actually manage to fulfill the caregiving journey.  I didn't get closure and the others don't seem to need it the same way. And maybe the closure will happen in a different way and time.  But right now, I'm out of step with the pace at which they are moving on. 

To complicate my mind further, I do understand he still exists and there is a new relationship I can have with him, if only I can move past myself faster.  I haven't seen him or anything, but sometimes it's like he's thinking of me and reaching out.  Sorry if it sounds weird.  I don't know how to explain it. But I feel like you would understand.

I do feel he knew how loved he was and still is, because he wanted so badly to remain with us and he experienced the lengths to which we tried to move heaven and earth to fufill that wish.  It makes me feel so sad that senior animals aren't always as cherished. I don't think I could ever have another pet.  But in another lifetime, I would want to adopt senior cats. They have so much grace and wisdom and they hold such a special place in my heart.

It took me a while to reply you because I had been feeling terrible and I needed to wait.  And there's just so much loss in energy and lack of motivation.  I must apologize in advance that this may be the speed at which I reply.

But I greatly appreciate your support.  Mercifully, at this stage, my sister is more receptive to hearing me rant.  She wasn't at all, during the caregiving.  And I'm often just in my room to avoid opportunities for conflict, so I am getting plenty of time to grieve on my own.  With the Covid situation, I'm trying to limit time out of the house.  For many years, people said to take breaks from caregiving, and be out in nature.  I couldn't then. And I still can't now, with all the time in the world.

I'm trying to take it a day at a time and just keep praying.  
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