Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pet Loss, It Is Real Grief

I put my cat, Snickers to sleep a few days ago. It was a very difficult decision, and one I had put off for several weeks, wanting to avoid grief. Although I knew I could not avoid grief, I was only partly avoiding grief because I was suffering already, and at times, the way Snickers looked at me, I knew he was suffering grief also. He knew, too, that our time together was about to end. All the years we’ve been together, nearly 14 years, I have insisted he was psychic, so how could I now deny he knew?

I have been treating him for kidney disease for more than three years, and during that time he might stabilize for awhile but in the last couple of months he had gone further down hill, dropping weight constantly, barely eating in the last week or so, and was also anemic. He was fourteen and I had him since he was 7 months old.

Pet loss is as real as the grief we suffer when any loved one dies. I know all about grief, I’ve lived it—I write about it. I also know that the loss of a pet (or any new loss for that matter) can bring to the surface past grief. And I was not ready to go there, until ... I knew he was ready ... and that forced me to be ready. He went peacefully, not putting up any kind of argument. It was time.

So I am in grief. I really miss him. I’m not greeted at the door, nor do I see him sitting at the window of my study as I back my car out of the drive, nor do I have him asking for milk or snacks when I go into the kitchen. I find myself commenting on a TV program out loud expecting him to react to my comment as he always did. Now when I go to bed he does not curl up with me, or when I sleep late I do not have his paw gently touching my face, his way of telling me to wake up. I miss his physical presence and hope to feel more of his spiritual presence as soon as I can move through a little of the aloneness. Right now, the grief is blocking those subtle spiritual connections. I feel that, I know that, but the letting go is still difficult. Maybe in a few days it will be easier.

It’s been a week and a half and the tears still come. Yesterday I began looking at kitties up for adoption at the local humane society. But right now, I don’t dare go there in person. And it is raining today, a good reason to stay right here at home.

I know it would be best if I give myself a little more time to grieve. But it hurts. I knew it would. But I know he is free and healthy again. And this time he can run through the tall grass, chase the birds and butterflies, climb the trees, and do the little things he could not do while living in my home. That day when we said our goodbyes, I told him it would be like that for him. And those words of mine calmed him as I held him and I believe gave him comfort and peace.

If you go through grief from the loss of your pet, don’t let anyone tell you: “Oh, what’s the matter with you? It’s just a cat.”—“It’s just a dog.” Obviously and sadly, the person who would say that to you does not understand love, let alone, understand unconditional love.

Today, 15 years ago, my husband, Don Pendleton died. I asked him to greet Snickers (whom he did not know in the physical), and I am sure he did, not only for me, but for Snickers. That is what love is all about.

Grief counselor, Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, writes about grief and pet loss. Listen to an audio interview with her speaking on “Pet Loss: A Different Kind of Grief.” You may also find her website and grief forum helpful, along with her grief healing ecourses, if you, too, are going through difficult times.


You may like to read my earlier posts on animal intuition:

The Eyes and Souls of Critters; Animal Intuition

Telepathic Animal Communication


Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC said...

Linda, dear, I'm so sorry to read of the death of your beloved friend, and I can only imagine how much this hurts. Please accept my deepest sympathy, and know that you are being held gently in my heart ♥

Nancy said...

Oh, Linda, I am so sorry for your loss. You are absolutely correct that it is as harsh a grief as when we lose any loved one. Sending you lots of love and light right now.

Helen Stroud said...

As Dr.P told me many years ago(As best as I can remember this quote)...."What is sadder than the death of love? And the love between people and animals is without condition.....many times a much stronger connection of love than between people". Of course, the way that he said this was so beautiful..... but ok...grieving is fine and dandy (as long as I don't have to do it, thank you very much :)) but I say go rescue a tiny kitten or two! Life without animals is too chilly.Love, Helen

Marlene said...

I am so sorry, I know what you are feeling.. the pain is horrible and the emptiness in the house when they leave...I still cry when I think of my companion of 19 yrs..she died lastyear..its a slow process and just give your self time...It took me a long time before I could get another dog..but it helps to start loving again..I send love your way. Marlene

Gemel said...

Bless your heart, I send you much love, I understand the way you feel, I still miss my Blossom, yet, like you know it was her time, and she, like Snickers knew too.

My cats are my family, the three I have now have healed my heart after Blossoms passing, she is present within Tarmie, as he is very much like my Blossom.

Hugs and purrs Gem n Spirit n Pixie n Tarmal ♥

ellen abbott said...

My sympathies Linda.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Oh, wow, I'm so sorry. It's heartbreaking to lose a pet under any condition, but when you have to put them to sleep, it's even worse. Lighting a candle for Snickers and send much light your way.

Linda Pendleton said...

Marty, thank you so much for your loving words, and of course, your understanding of pet loss and your healing word in that regards. I know you've helped a lot of people with your books, articles, ecourses, and website.

Nancy, thank you for the love and light. The pet loss can be just as harsh, as you said.

Helen, Dr. Peebles always has a way of explaining things like unconditional love, doesn't he? And as he said, "what is sadder than the death of love." But then again, we do know love lives on, and death is only an illusion.

Thank you Marlene, and I'm sorry also for the loss of your dog, that's a long time to have a pet companion. I'm glad you found another dog to love and to have his love.

Gemel, Thank you. I know you miss Blossom...your kitty family is beautiful and I know you share a lot of love there.

Thank you, Ellen.

Trish & Rob, Thank you. It is a hard decision to put our pets to sleep, but at times it is the best thing to do, as difficult as it is. Thank you for the blessing.

Sid Korpi said...

You have my deepest sympathy for your loss of that beautiful cat Snickers. No doubt, his physical absence has left a void in your life. I liked very much what you said about grief currently blocking your perception of his spiritual presence. When you're ready to receive them, I've no doubt he'll send you signs of his continuing love. I wrote about several such instances in my book "Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss." It is in these little indicators that our loved ones, both human and animal, live on after they transition to the Other Side and can interact with us on some level that miracles lie. I'll be hoping for you to be able to speed your heart's healing once Snickers lets you know he's thriving once again.

Linda Pendleton said...

Thanks, Sid. Yes, as I know with my own writings on grief, personal experiences and experiences of others, loved ones (including pets) do interact with us in subtle ways and sometimes not quite so subtle. And yes, it is those miracles that not only bring peace but healing. Your book sounds very good...and I'm sure helpful for many. Thanks for your comments.

Frances said...

Whoever said that grief for a person is greater than grief for a pet definitely never loved a pet. Going through pet loss grief needs a step-by-step process to gradually recover from it.