Grieving

les26

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les26, I can so relate to the suffocating feeling. I told my husband yesterday that the grief makes me feel claustophobic, because you cannot escape.
I'll never forget that feeling when I was in the shower and closed the sliding door, I have never felt anxiety like that before and the only way I can describe it is that I felt like I suffocating, almost being buried alive, and it was horrible. And at night the first few nights after he passed, I would lie down in bed and when the lights went out I felt a similar feeling, Deb even asked if I wanted a night light it was that bad! And if a grown man can feel like that, it just shows you how powerful emotions are, how strong the bond is that we developed with these little creatures, it is quite amazing actually. And I know there is a member on here who always says that the cat would never want us to be hurting and feeling bad like that, I forget who it is maybe Di & Bob, and they are right, our cats who have passed would be heartbroken to know we are suffering like that, but we can't help it, if we cared that much in life we grieve equally as much in death, even though we know they don't want us to and we know they are fine now, just fine, it is us who are hurting!

I hope you feel a bit better each day, little steps....:alright:

And when this horrible allergic reaction happened and we almost lost Sugar a month ago, I found myself saying to myself all of the things that I say on here to try to comfort others, things like "sometimes bad thing like this just happen", and "we never know what life will throw at us", but it was almost like it wasn't sinking in, like I didn't believe it but also because she was still here and after a few days I started to get the feeling that she will pull through and thanks be to God she did, so I guess that was a wake up call to make sure that I enjoy and appreciate her and the others even more and everyday!
 
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Margret

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I am, for some reason, feeling a lot better this morning, but I’m sure it’s just a temporary reprieve.
The human body isn't generally capable of sustaining extremely strong emotions continually. It would be like having your fist clenched tight all the time - at some point you get tired and have to relax.

This is part of the reason it works to set aside time for grieving every day - you take that time and "cry yourself out," and then you're able to go about your day-to-day life with some semblance of normalcy, for a little while, without the emotion "ambushing" you, because that part of yourself has gotten tired and is relaxing.

I should also mention that just because it can take months or even years for some of us to complete our grieving, for others it goes quite fast. My husband is like that; it's one of the reasons he was so worried that my grief for Sweet Thing lasted so long. I was equally worried when his grief at his mother's death only lasted for a week or so, but there is no right or wrong about how long we grieve. It takes as long as it takes, and that length of time isn't about how much we love the one we've lost; it's much more about our personal make-up and how quickly we heal.

Margret
 

furrypurry

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And today I am feeling bad about not feeling bad. Grief really does mess with your head. I am still incredibly sad. I am more at peace today but am feeling guilty about not tearing my hair out and wailing. I keep asking myself if I really loved him why am I not prostrate on the floor? It’s like I don’t think I should even be functioning. I did do an awful lot of anticipatory grieving for the past month, so maybe the final departure was such a relief for him it has extended to relief for myself. Or maybe I just need a shrink.
 

les26

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And today I am feeling bad about not feeling bad. Grief really does mess with your head. I am still incredibly sad. I am more at peace today but am feeling guilty about not tearing my hair out and wailing. I keep asking myself if I really loved him why am I not prostrate on the floor? It’s like I don’t think I should even be functioning. I did do an awful lot of anticipatory grieving for the past month, so maybe the final departure was such a relief for him it has extended to relief for myself. Or maybe I just need a shrink.
I remember after Simon passed from stomach cancer both Deb & I felt guilty when we ate, I guess we knew that he couldn't anymore and felt guilty that we could, how messed up was that? Yes, grief can take many forms and play many games both mentally and physically. One thing I was told about that really helped and at times I still take it now as needed is the herb Holy Basil, it allows you to adapt and deal with the stress better. You know that it is still there, but you can just handle it better and it is not a drug so there are really no side effects. That, time, prayer and talking to people about it gets me through the rough seas, so I hope you hang in there and realize it is not a straight line to wellness, one step up and two steps back for quite awhile.....:alright: :grouphug: :rbheart:
 
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Margret

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And today I am feeling bad about not feeling bad. Grief really does mess with your head. I am still incredibly sad. I am more at peace today but am feeling guilty about not tearing my hair out and wailing. I keep asking myself if I really loved him why am I not prostrate on the floor? It’s like I don’t think I should even be functioning. I did do an awful lot of anticipatory grieving for the past month, so maybe the final departure was such a relief for him it has extended to relief for myself. Or maybe I just need a shrink.
There are times when all of us could use a little therapy; if you think it would help you go for it, but, once again, your reactions are perfectly normal. Please keep reminding yourself that guilt over your emotions is itself an emotion, and that at a time like this basically all guilt is irrational. Yes, you feel guilty, and that's important because feelings are always important, but that doesn't mean that you are guilty.

The 5 "stages" of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The thing is, though, grief isn't this orderly. You don't "pass through" denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance; they can occur in any order and at random; you can have more than one at once; and they tend to "jump around" - depression yesterday, anger today, denial tomorrow, acceptance the day after, and then depression again. So today you happen to be in acceptance (or perhaps just numbness, which doesn't count as a "stage of grief" but is a very real phenomenon); this is not some kind of moral failure on your part. Think of it as a brief respite and don't worry about it so much.

Margret
 

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Well, I’m no longer feeling guilty for not feeling bad, because it hurts like hell tonight. This is the first time I have been here at home alone (just Purrcy and me) and the silence is deafening. Not that Jaspurr was noisy. It’s just the silence of that big old yawning void. All I can think about is if I could have just one more snuggle with him. I found some of his fur on a chair and picked it all off to save like it was made of gold. When I put it up to my face the familiar warm scent was so wonderful and so painful.

I have been here before but it was 17 years ago. I don’t know why being a little older made me think I could handle it any better.
 

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I drop in on this board when I feel very low, to read some words of comfort from people who really understand what it means to lose a beloved family member. I lost Harry in Feb and have low low days still. One of the worst feelings is that after many cats, all rescues, I just dont think I could do it again so my grief is many parts. Sympathies to everyone going through the same thing, it really is hell.
 

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Thank you all for sharing your stories. Margaret - thank you especially for your post because it is helping me understand what I'm going through as I type. I lost my Sebastian just yesterday and I've been a mess on and off all day.
 
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Margret

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I dreamed two nights ago that I was talking with my mother about Christmas. She said that she was moving to Denmark, and I said that I'd have to get a passport so I could spend Christmas with her, and then she fell silent. I called her name and she didn't answer, so I frantically called 911, trying to get a message to emergency responders in Oregon (in my dream that's where she was, in my old house in Bend, OR), and panicking because I couldn't remember the address. I woke up convinced that all of that had just happened, only remembered that no, my mother has been dead for almost two and a half years when I realized that I didn't have a phone in my hand.

Denial. Bargaining. Two and a half years after I lost her, and I haven't been neglecting my grief work. It doesn't generally hit me so hard, and so suddenly, but it's still there in the background, all the time, hurting like hell.

Margret
 

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I dreamed two nights ago that I was talking with my mother about Christmas. She said that she was moving to Denmark, and I said that I'd have to get a passport so I could spend Christmas with her, and then she fell silent. I called her name and she didn't answer, so I frantically called 911, trying to get a message to emergency responders in Oregon (in my dream that's where she was, in my old house in Bend, OR), and panicking because I couldn't remember the address. I woke up convinced that all of that had just happened, only remembered that no, my mother has been dead for almost two and a half years when I realized that I didn't have a phone in my hand.

Denial. Bargaining. Two and a half years after I lost her, and I haven't been neglecting my grief work. It doesn't generally hit me so hard, and so suddenly, but it's still there in the background, all the time, hurting like hell.

Margret
Margaret, sometimes it feels like it will never get better doesnt it. I lost my mother 4 months before I lost Harry in Feb this year. My mother and I didnt live close but she came and stayed so I got the benefit of seeing her for whole days and weeks instead of odd hours and when she died I was devastated and the only positive was that I would not have to leave Harry when I went to bring her to my house, but then Harry died just 4 months later. A double blow. In my mind I bargain all of the time, yes it does hurt so very much.
 
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Margret

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I don’t know why being a little older made me think I could handle it any better.
As far as I can tell, being older just means that you know you'll survive it, because you survived it last time.

When my dad died, my mother told me she was surprised that it hurt her so much, because she'd been through that before - she'd lost her first husband as a very young woman. I don't even know what his name was; when I visited my mother in 2014 it was still so painful for her that she was unable to talk about him, something like 70 years after his death. He was the love of her life, the man she wanted to father her children, and she couldn't tell her children his name.

Margret
 

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Thank you so much for this. Yesterday, I lost my sweet boy fuzzy after 8 years together. He was strangled by his collar outside it is so devistating to lose him the way I did. I am so sad right now, but this helps me so much. I was hoping to cut corners and try to avoid the grief, telling myself he is happy now(which he is) but that didn't replace the grief. Thank you
 
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Margret

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F Fuzzy2348 , I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, and I'm glad my experiences can be helpful to you.

You seem to be a new member at The Cat Site, welcome. Please be aware that TCS is a community of cat lovers, and as part of our community you're welcome to come here whenever you need a shoulder to cry on. And because we're a worldwide community there are always people around.

Some of our members take comfort in posting a memorial thread about their lost loved one in this forum: Crossing the Bridge. If you feel that would help you please feel free to do so, whenever it feels right to you.

When the time comes that you're ready for a new cat, talk with us about collars first.

Margret
 

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I thought my grieving slowed down but I cried one night it happens weekly. It's like a flood of tears then dries til it comes down a week. I prayed alot and tried to believe in Jesus and God. Even looked up nde with pets to give me hope.

I now question if afterlife exist with pets. I guess this hurts me hard I never had a cat more then 10 yrs cause I had no say to keep my cats my dad and mom bought me we had to get rid of some cats when my dad got sick. I couldn't take them on the move. When I finally got 2 cats to give them forever home. I now have 1 cat. They are 3 months apart.

Sometimes I find it hard a cat comes in to your life and use to day by day with each other then all of a sudden when your worst fear no more cat to greet you, to talk to you, and the purs. that personality is different in each cat. I still miss her and I keep praying to hope there is an afterlife with pets
 

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There are pet 'ministers' that are available on the internet. They are much more knowledgeable about biblical references to pets being in heaven. When my Chrissy died, one wrote a beautiful prayer for her, ti was called a last blessing,and it was just like she was talking to me. I still cry when I read it. That was 6 years ago so I don't know if she is still available. Compassion for Creatures on facebook may give you a place to start. Or google ordained pet ministers.
Don't ever give up believing that you will be with your little one again. Don't research too deep, there are too many nonbelievers that can say whatever they want to say, and have the internet to hide in. But there are also references in the bible that refer to having our loved ones with us again, even the pets. And taht God created every creature alive and loves them all equally. He knows when every sparrow falls.....Remember too, even the Pope, one of the most important religious figures in the world stated that we will see our pets in heaven.
The most important thing that I cling to, concerning my faith and the belief that I will see Chrissy again, is that if I am wrong I lose nothing, I will be dead, but if I am right I gain everything!
 

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In 1991 my heart kitty, Sweet Thing :rbheart:, got sick and we took her to the vet, who diagnosed kidney failure. I thought that meant “There’s nothing we can do. It’s time for euthanasia,” but the vet said “Let’s try a subcutaneous IV,” so we did. And it worked, sort of, for a while. But then she lost her appetite, and the vet gave her Valium, which has the side effect of giving cats “the munchies,” much as marijuana does in humans. The difference is that for cats it only works one or two times; then the cat develops a tolerance for it.

Time for more subcutaneous liquids. :sigh: Remember, this was 1991 to ‘92; there was no mention made of training me to do it myself at home. This was an inpatient procedure only. Sweet Thing was spending longer and longer periods in a hospital cage, frightened, among strangers, away from the people who loved her, and miserable. And I let it happen, because I thought “If there’s nothing he can really do the vet will tell me that it’s time.” Unfortunately, vets don’t do that, not unless you specifically ask them to. I know that now; I didn’t then. That was my first big mistake.

Eventually, my husband told me that I had to let Sweet Thing go, that she was suffering too much. I talked to a different vet who was a personal friend, and she told me what was actually going on; that any treatment we gave to Sweet Thing at this point was just slowing down the end, that Sweet Thing was terminal, and it would only get worse, something which Sweet Thing’s vet had never told me. So I went to the vet’s office and said that we needed to euthanize Sweet Thing, and that I wanted to hold her while it happened.

I had never before witnessed euthanasia, so this is when I made my second big mistake. I expected there to be a brief period after Sweets fell asleep and before she left forever, during which I could say “Goodbye,” for my comfort, not for Sweet Thing’s; I didn’t want Sweet Thing to know what was happening. But that’s not how euthanasia works. I had always thought that “put to sleep” was a euphemism, one that I absolutely hated. This is when I found out that it’s actually an extremely accurate description. The drug is injected and the cat closes her eyes and sighs out her last breath and she’s gone, immediately. You find yourself holding a body that still looks like your loved one, but there’s no one inside. I drove home, in shock, to a house that suddenly felt totally empty, as if it could never be a home again, because the heart of it was gone. I was grieving, and I felt guilty for waiting too long, and I felt guilty for doing it at all. I felt as if I had betrayed a child, because I knew that Sweet Thing had come to me for help, because Sweet Thing thought I could fix anything, and the only way I could find to help her was to end her life, and I just knew that that wasn’t what she’d had in mind.

(Note: guilt is perfectly normal after the loss of a loved one, even contradictory guilt - “I did it too soon, no, I waited too long.” The fact is that in the face of death we are all helpless, and helplessness is a terrible feeling, so terrible that our subconscious minds would rather feel guilty than helpless. You see, guilt implies that there was something we could have done that would have prevented this horrible thing that happened, and if we can just figure out what that thing was and avoid it in the future this will never happen again. It’s just too bad that life doesn’t work that way. Eventually, if we are to survive intact we absolutely must acknowledge that, while we may have regrets, we did the best we could with the resources at our disposal at the time, and then we have to forgive ourselves for not being God. And if we can manage to laugh at ourselves for ever having expected God-like abilities of ourselves so much the better.)​

And I grieved, desperately, for months. So deeply, and for so long, that my husband got worried about me and began to say the things that many people say to those of us who have lost a pet, things like:
  • “She was just a cat.” (At least he knew better than to call Sweet Thing “it.” Many people don’t.)
  • “It’s already been six months. Don’t you think it’s time you let go of her?”
  • “I’m getting worried about you. This isn’t healthy.”
None of this had the desired result, because he was wrong, and I knew he was wrong. I was grieving because I was in pain, and no act of will could end that pain. I wasn’t done with the important job of grieving. Instinctively I knew this was true, but I didn’t have the arguments I needed to convince my husband, and it began causing trouble in our marriage. Instead of holding me and letting me cry on his shoulder, giving me what comfort he could, my husband was telling me that my feelings were wrong and dangerous. So now, on top of losing my heart kitty, I felt beleaguered.

All of this only made my husband more worried about me, desperate to do something to end my grieving, so he talked to a friend of ours who is a Wiccan Priestess and whom he knew I respected, and persuaded her to “counsel” me about my grief. And this is where I made my third mistake: I listened to her. Now, one of the things that the Priestess believes is that it’s wrong to foist your own religious beliefs on someone else, but because she also didn’t understand what was really going on, because she basically agreed that my grief was somehow toxic to me, she violated that principle. She told me that because of my grief Sweet Thing was still tethered to this life; that she couldn’t move on to her next life because I was holding her back. (Just what I needed - more guilt.)

My personal belief (which I’m not pushing on anyone here) is that death is death; that there is nothing beyond it, but I thought, “Suppose I’m wrong. Suppose the Priestess is right, and I’m keeping my beloved Sweet Thing from moving on to her next life. That would be horrible!” so I tried to say “Goodbye” to Sweets, to say “I’m sorry that my grief is hurting you; go in peace.” The only result of this was that my pain turned inward and I went into a deep clinical depression, which lasted for years. I didn’t complete the grieving process which would have allowed my heart to heal cleanly.

Eventually it dawned on me that I had made a truly terrible mistake by accepting this “counseling,” but I still needed a way to explain to my husband and my friend why they were wrong, so I did the thing that I wish I’d thought of in the first place; I went to the library and searched for a book about grieving. The very first book that I found (and I’m sorry that I no longer remember either the title or the author so I’m unable to give credit where it’s due) had a whole chapter about grieving for pets, and it gave three rules or principles for grieving a pet (or anyone else). Here they are:
  1. It hurts as much as it hurts. There is no right or wrong about how much the loss of a pet "should" hurt. The fact is that our pets are family members; they aren’t “just” anything; and anyone who says “It was just a cat” is demonstrating a gross lack of understanding. And the loss of a family member should be painful.
  2. It takes as long as it takes. There is no set period of time within which grieving should end, not for the loss of a parent, or a child, or a spouse, or a friend, or a pet. Some people do their grieving quickly; others of us take longer, and it’s important to take whatever time you need to complete your grieving. And remember, this is still a family member we’re talking about. People who say “It’s already been six months; don’t you think it’s time you got over the death of your cat?” would never think of saying “It’s already been six months; don’t you think it’s time you got over the death of your mother?” No, I’m not saying that your cat was as important to you as your mother. I am saying that grief doesn’t always make that kind of fine distinction, and if you expect it to do so you’re going to be seriously confused and hurt.
  3. The only way to the other side of grief is straight through the middle. There are no shortcuts, no bypasses. Any attempt to cut the process short, or avoid it altogether, merely ensures that you will never complete it.
Our pets make a place for themselves in our hearts, and when they pass it leaves a hole behind. In many ways, the loss of a pet is an amputation; a part of ourselves has been removed, and we will never get that part back. But we have options about how to deal with the loss. If we acknowledge the wound and take proper care of it then it can heal cleanly, and eventually it gets better. There will always be a cat-shaped hole in our hearts, but the time comes when we can remember the cat who made that hole with more affection than pain, when his or her life is once again more important to us than her or his death. But if we try to pretend that we haven’t been wounded, if we cover it up and avoid grieving, we keep the wound from healing properly. It isn’t grief that’s toxic (though it’s certainly painful) but the attempted denial of grief. That puts a huge strain on both our minds and our bodies and leaves us vulnerable both to clinical depression, like I suffered from, and to all of the physical ills that can be caused or exacerbated by stress.

This post isn’t really about Sweet Thing, because it isn’t about her life; this post is about grieving, and I’m putting it here so that others can learn from my errors and avoid some of the added pain that I went through. I hope it helps.
:alright: :vibes: :hugs:

Margret
 

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I said goodbye to Speedy on Wednesday night, it hasn't even been two days yet. I am wracked with grief and regret and not ready to post yet at the Rainbow Bridge section. It has been just me and Speedy, on our own together for 18 years, and it is very difficult to be home alone with my memories of her final days and her toys and things everywhere. I haven't even thrown out the litter box, I scooped it but was careful not to disturb her little footprints. All the food she couldn't eat at the end still in the fridge.

Last night I went to a pet loss support group. It is sponsored by the Pet ER where Speedy was put to sleep, and they gave me a flier. As luck would have it, the once-a-month meeting happened to be the very next day.

I went to it mainly because I didn't want to go home and I know where else to go. I was the first person to come to group so soon after a pet's death and I was the only cat person last night. I think maybe it was helpful, I was able to talk a bit about what happened and my feelings, and I cried and nobody judged me. I think I may go back again. At least its a place where you can cry and everybody reassures you that you did the right thing.
 

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Oh wow.... that was so unexpected. There is no reason to blame yourself, you gave her 18 exceptional years with you and she gave you back tons of love in return. Grieving will be hard. You might also check with your local Hospices. Some have good groups for those who lost pets. Groups are good, use them.
 

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Do whatever makes your heart a little less heavy. Losing a little one is devastating, and any kind of support you can muster up would be much appreciated. Only those who haev walked in your shoes can relate. I'll keep you both in my thoughts and prayers. When you are ready please post a tribute to that precious little girl......
 

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Margaret and di and bob, your comments about not letting death overshadow life reflect something I have been feeling since I lost Speedy. I am going to write letters to her, about her much I love her, everything about her life, and the little nicknames I called her, all my happy memories. As my life goes on, I don't want to forget one little thing, and I can reread these letters when in feeling better and remember all the things I love about Speedy.
 
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