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Pet Loss: Matters Of Love and Death

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Let us take a moment to recognize our (at least) national aversion to feeling anything even remotely resembling the heavy end of the healthy emotions spectrum. We take pills for our pain. We numb our bodies in childbirth. We drink a few glasses of wine to detach from a hard day at the office. We hurl ourselves at work when we hate our spouses. We use credit cards to distance us from the hell of not having enough. We eat away our loneliness, our fear, and our rage. We are afraid to feel.

We are afraid to feel.

And it’s not just a bullshit move to run away from the feelings that we’ve deemed unsavory… it’s literally killing us. Yes, it hurts to lose a beloved pet–a trusted companion of 15 years–but th at hurt is only a fraction of what we will carry into the future if we don’t pause to grieve this loss.

It is our tendency to fly forward, too afraid to feel the hurt, piling one set of un-shed tears on top of the next. When we attempt to replace dead pets (or children, lovers, or friends, for that matter), we deny our very primal need to grieve. When we distract ourselves with something cute or shiny or numbing, we push our grief down instead of releasing it. And it’s the releasing it that allows us to move on at a natural, healthy pace.

There is an organic process that follows any loss like this and when we deny it, we suffer. And people who are suffering, hurt other people. It’s a toxic cycle of detachment and denial, and it has to stop. If we want to be the extraordinary people we are capable of being, we must choose to stay, to be in our experience, until it shifts into a new one. We must be willing to feel the way our life honestly feels. Releasing this experience properly creates space for the next beautiful experience to flow to us.

If I brought home a kitten right now, I believe I would be robbing my wife, my children, and myself of the opportunity to grieve properly. Although we might be distracted, a new kitten would do nothing to help us heal the wound. Fancy just died yesterday. That hole in our hearts, minds, and home can’t be filled. They have to heal.

Instead of bringing in a kitten–and don’t get me wrong, we love kittens–we will be here, in this house that feels different without Fancy. We’ll notice that she is gone. We’ll feel space that used to be occupied by her unconditionally loving spirit, and rather maddening aversion to personal hygiene. We will tell stories and look at pictures. We will laugh about her life, and sometimes cry because it hurts that she is gone.

Instead of running away from ourselves, we will experience this loss.

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Read more: Depression, Life, Love, Mental Wellness, Pets, Self-Help, Spirit, , , , , , , ,

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Christy Diane Farr

Christy Diane Farr is a catalyst. If that sounds like something you want more of in your life, visit 'The Greenhouse' at SeedsAndWeedsCoaching.com and join the Wildflower Evolution on Facebook.

137 comments

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5:03AM PDT on May 31, 2013

They're part of the human's life

8:42PM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

or expect. I know that. But I can't help to ask: what if I was there 5 minutes earlier? Could have it been possible to do the cardiac massage properly and make her breathe again? Should have I moved her instead of keeping her in the same position? I was afraid to provoke another crisis and worsen her state.
They say she was safe and warm, and not alone, as we were in the house with her. They say seeing your pets die is much worse than finding them asleep forever. But still, I wish I stayed in the bathroom all the time, to be with her when she was leaving, and touch her, and talk to her for the very last time, not only 10 minutes earlier. I can't go over the fact that I should have been with her in that moment. I miss you too much my sister. I only hope you knew how much we loved you. We shared many beautiful years, you slept on my bed, and delighted us with your purrs. That will never be erased. I love you, forever.
Please give me some advice to feel better. What are the strongest medicines to fight stress, anxiety, despair, and insomnia?

8:42PM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

These comments both give me strenght and make me cry. Please give me some advice to feel better. What are the strongest medicines to fight stress, anxiety, despair, and insomnia?
My beloved cat passed away last Tuesday/Wednesday, at about 4 am. Everything changed. I am devasted. I can't breathe nor sleep. Medicines do nothing. I keep thinking and crying.
What I regret the most is that she died without me on her side: she was warm in her blanket, in her wicker basket, in the bathroom, with the heater near her. I stepped in to check her every 10 minutes, she was stable and tranquil. At about 4 am, I entered the bathroom and saw her static, with her head limp, her eyes wide open and veiled. I had a sussult, kneeled down, and touched her. She didn't move, her eyes still freezed. I touched her chest and felt no beat. I put my face in front of her nose and felt no breathe. I tried to do the cardiac massage: I can't do it properly, and it was too late. First I thought (and hoped) she was in a coma, but I was simply in denial. I started crying, instantly woke up my mother, and called the vet, then rushed to the vet with the car. She only could confirm that she was gone.

8:26PM PST on Nov 11, 2012

We just lost our Catface yesterday afternoon and it feels like I've been hit by a semi truck. She was only 4 years old and it was due to a medication mix up at the vet's office. I just miss my kitty so much =/ This was a wonderful article...

8:11AM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

thanks for sharing

2:31AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Thank you.

5:25AM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

My mother use to say that if you live long enough we lose everything that is close to us. Still she loved everything and everyone unconditionally. She took the chances that come with loving and in the end had little but her memories. But this is true for all of us and this is why we live life......for the memories. I want my memories to be good ones when I lay my head on the pillow for the last time and so I strive to make my life a "good one" surrounded by the things I love. Now that I am growing old I dread the loss of my animal friends for I fear that I will never have another. For the first time I worry that they might out live me and not the other way around. I would never want to die and leave my pets unprotected and uncared for.....so at this stage of life I understand my mother's words and depend on the memories that I have been blessed with over the last sixty five years.

9:26PM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

Beautifully written. My condolences for your loss.

8:02AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

Christie: My boys were 19 and 20 when they died- which meant I had them more than half of my adult life. How could I not grieve for them. I found a ferel mom with four female kittens. Two were caught and spayed but the others continued to have kittens until I could tame them and by that time I had over 20 cats in my house and yard. Animal control started picking them up since ferel feeding was illegal until several months ago and the maximum was 4 to a household. I had to board the ones until I can find a home since the county closed my house shortly berfore foreclosure preceedings began. I grieve everyday for the deceased boys, for the ones that were taken from my yard behind my back especially my One eyed black Jack and for the ones that although are safe are 250 miles away and I havent seen for 7 months now (and may never again). All kitties (or dogs) are different, individuals like children and cannot be replaced. The new cats do not take the place in my heart of the ones that are gone. They were a diversion from the empty feeling left by Blackie and Spots but NEVER
a replacement. The mourning process is normal but do not let it keep you from adopting another needy little one (or two) whom you will learn love and cherish (in about 5 minutes). And my Condolences on your loss.

3:34PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

When my dog, Ivan, unexpectedly passed away I felt like no matter what anyone said wasn't appropriate. I guess because I thought that they weren't sincere. Still grieving, I spotted a cute dog in a kill shelter online. Although I thought the timing might be off, I couldn't bear the thought of this sweet dog being killed. Turned out to be the best decision I've made! Issiah helped me with the grieving process and I'm so lucky we found each other in time.

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