The Grief of Losing a Pet: A True Story
“No one can truly understand the bond we form with the animals we love until we experience the loss of one.” ~Unknown
This past Christmas we made the decision to put our cat ‘Angel’ down. We knew she was suffering and as a result so were we with frustration at not being able to cure what ailed her; constant messes to clean up; odor that was intolerable at times; and the increasing level of care she needed and we were struggling to give. However, even though we felt we were doing the right thing the pain that followed was real and unexpected, quite frankly.
Our minds were okay with what we were doing for the most part as doubt was always there as an unwelcome companion challenging our decision. It was our hearts that really took the blow in the end.
We had Angel for fifteen years, she was a solid member of our family. My children grew up with her, and she with them. All our family members and friends each had their moments with Angel. She was a people lover, allowing anyone who entered ‘her’ home to love her up. You couldn’t help but want to hold her, pet her and allow her time with you. She just loved to be with and around people.
We adopted Angel when she was eleven months old and she was already named, so we kept it not realizing at the time how appropriate a name it was. To top it off I had given my daughter a stuffed cat the Christmas before as a practice pet so to speak. It was black with a white spot, and she named it Angel. Fast forward many months and we happened to come across a cat at the pet store that was black with a white spot. We all held her in our arms to see if she liked us and how friendly she was, and instantly fell in love. It was only after deciding to get her that we discovered her name was in fact Angel. That sealed the deal and as they say the rest is history. It was a match made in heaven, and she was truly an angel.
One thing Angel loved to do and pretty much insisted on doing was joining me/us for our morning coffee, curling up on a lap, even taking turns. She was fair in her giving of affection. It became a regular routine that we grew to love and cherish. At bedtime goodnight snuggles also became a ritual over time.
I cannot fully begin to explain the depth of pain and grief we have been feeling since Angel has gone. What I do know is that pet loss and the grief associated with it is real, tangible; not to be slighted, ignored, dismissed or minimized. One of the mistakes we make with grief is to compare losses, making some more significant than others and therefore ignoring our true feelings. All loss is felt 100% by the griever, and we need to allow ourselves to feel and grieve all our losses if we truly want to feel better and heal fully. Pet loss is no exception.
Being a Grief Recovery Specialist I knew what I needed to do, and I, like many people, just wanted it all to go away without having to do anything but let time do its magic. But I know time is not magic. It is what we do in that time that creates the real healing. So, I walked my talk and did my grief work. Yes, it was hard, yes it made me cry more, but more than anything it made me feel better.
Good-bye my sweetest Angel, you will be missed but not forgotten. Thank you for all the love and joy you brought into our lives.