Fiona_W
I lost my two orange oriental shorthairs last fall: Oscar died on October 26, and his sister Nénu ("nay-noo") on December 9. I've been having a hard time of it. My husband and I chose long ago not to have any human children, so we've had a succession of pairs of oriental cats. We accept the fact that our kitties will die before we do, but these two were only three and a half years old! And they died within 6 weeks of each other! I lost HALF of my immediate family!

I'm finding that the grief for losing TWO cats is not twice as hard, it's the square of the pain.

Here's a funny picture of my orange kitties as kittens. The look on Oscar's face is pure joy:

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A big part of why my grief is so crushing is that we have already adopted a new pair of kitties. Usually we wait longer before doing that, but our breeder had a pair of oriental longhairs ready to go to a new home, and she insisted, giving us these new kittens for free:

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The black-and-white cat in the back is Stevie Ray, named for the late great Texas blues guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan. The brown-and-black cat in front is Emmylou, named for the multitalented vocalist, Emmylou Harris, who's still with us. They are only seven months old, but they are BIG! 9 pounds and 8 pounds.

I've already gotten good advice here about how to grieve for my orange kitties in a way that won't bother these new ones. I don't know what I want today. I guess I just want to say that I thought I was getting my weeping and wailing under control, but last night at 3 AM I woke up sobbing fiercely. I was shouting that the pain was so bad I wanted to die. I woke up my husband and freaked out the poor kittens, who don't know what to make of me. I don't blame them for being shy around me: I'm a mess!

Fi ("fee")
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Bailey15
Hi Fiona,
I am so sorry for your losses. That has to be truly awful for you. Such a beautiful picture of your two orange kitties - and also your new kittens. I can relate somewhat to how you are feeling. I lost Bailey (who was the absolute light of our lives) and never planned to get another dog. My friend kept showing me pictures and about 6 months later I saw Charlie. We fell immediately in love with him and have never regretted rescuing him. However, there have been many nights when I stay up and look through Bailey's memory box because I know I will never truly get over that loss. He was my heart and we were together for a long time.
Charlie is a rescue and didn't have a good life. He was 4.6 years when we got him and I want to make sure he is getting all the love he so richly deserves but it is a bit of a balancing act. Please know I love Charlie so much but he will never of course replace Bailey so there have been times when I have struggled a bit with how to grieve for Bailey and not let it affect Charlie. I don't know if this is helping but I thought you might like to know that I have some idea of how you feel. I think for you it is worse of course because your loss is still so fresh. I think it is important you mourn for your lost kitties - whether you take a drive in the car or just spend some time alone where you can look through pictures, etc. and cry as much as you need to. These new kittens will need your love too of course but you are still suffering. I would be really interested to know the advice you mentioned that someone gave you. Please take care and I am sending hugs your way,
MJ
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Fiona_W
Thank you for your kind words, MJ. I just realized a few minutes ago that today is the four-month anniversary of Oscar's death. Four months is NOT long enough to have turned the corner from weeping and in pain, to being grateful for the joy they brought me, even if it was only three and a half years. I'm not there yet—not at all. I'm so miserable.

You asked about the advice I got about how to grieve for the dead kitties without disturbing the live ones. A sweet man suggested that I make a shrine for my orange kitties, in a quiet place. So I did that: I set up a shrine in our guest room, the quietest room in the house, with one of those digital picture frames that cycles through the photos. Other things that are on the shrine are some of their favorite toys, and a bowl of water. Fresh flowers in a vase would be nice, but I'm disabled, so I can't go out and get them. I refresh the water every day. I plan to add burning some incense and lighting a candle.

I added something of my own to that advice, which was to pick a specific time every day when I go sit before the shrine, with the door of the room closed. First I do my Taoist meditation, then I invite Oscar and Nénu into my consciousness, and give myself over to weeping—weeping quietly, so the live kitties won't hear me. I also commune with my deity, the Star Goddess. By choosing a specific time to do this, I've been able, the rest of the day, to say to myself, "Don't cry now. Wait until it's time, when you're sitting in the guest room before their shrine."

It was working.... until last night. I don't know what happened last night. Maybe I was dreaming about my orange kitties, and I just didn't remember the dream. Maybe I was unconsciously aware that it was the four-month anniversary of Oscar's death. I don't know.

Today when I said to my husband, "I thought I had the weeping and wailing under control!" he replied, "The important thing is not control, but patience. You just need to be more patient with yourself." I thought those were wise words.

So maybe, MJ, you can set up a quiet corner where you keep Bailey's memory box, and choose a specific time of the day when you sit with those memories and give yourself over to crying, praying, talking to Bailey, whatever you need to do. If you have Bailey's ashes, put them there with the memory box. And then, during the rest of the day, you focus on Charlie, and set aside your tears for Bailey until that time of day comes around again. Just a suggestion....

I'd like to share with you my favorite pictures of my orange kitties, because it's a sequence that captures how heart-stoppingly beautiful Oscar was. Go to this link, read what I wrote underneath, and then click on the picture to get a larger version of it:

http://www.ipernity.com/doc/fi_webster/41929008

Can you share some pictures of Bailey, and tell us a little bit about what he was like?

—peace, love, & rock-n-roll,

Fi

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Bailey15
Hi Fiona,
I looked at your pictures of Oscar and Nenu - so beautiful!! You're right: 4 months is not a long time so it's natural that you still need to grieve your sweet babies. I think the shrine idea is lovely and I also think that you are very wise to set aside some time each day to grief your losses. Thank you for sharing that!
You may have been aware that it was Oscar's 4 only Anniversary when you became so upset. One thing I have learned since I lost Bailey is just how complex our brains really are!
Your husband's words are very wise. Grief is a process and there will be times when you just won't be able to control those sad emotions but it's all part of this very difficult journey so as your husband said, try and be patient with yourself. You have suffered a huge loss.
Thanks for asking about Bailey pics. We had to let our boy go on Nov. 10/15 and I found this forum a few months later. If you click on Bailey15 and then on 'topics posted' you will find some pictures of Bailey (particularly under "Remembering the Good Times) and there were so many of those.... just like you and your precious kitties!
I hope your new little ones bring you joy every day and it will work out - even though your heart is still sad.
Sending hugs,
MJ
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