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It seems that so many of us have lost one or more of our feline family in the last several months. I know I am still trying to come to terms with the loss of Buzzy in November and Tucker last May. We have all heard the comments from family/friends that "it was only a cat", so it often seems that it's only our fellow cat or pet lovers that understand our sadness.
I was just wondering what ways everyone has found for coping with their losses. One thing I did was to write a poem for Tucker and I know there are others who have also done this. Holly mentioned reciently that she printed out the condolence pages from cat forum. I was hoping that people who have been through it would post ideas that would help all of us through our grief.
 

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I don't really have any set ways to deal with it. I grew up rurally on a small farm and I understand the cycle of farm-animal life and how it relates to my world of balancing pets and practicality. I will look at photos I have taken, cry when I need to and hug my remaining pets closely (smotheringly) for a few days, but eventually the pain eases.
I cannot say I enjoyed it, but I certainly appreciated EVERY response when someone replied to one of my "lost a pet" threads. It was comforting to know other people cared as much about their pets as I did, and understood the depths of my loss. The only thing I have difficulty with, is when a Rainbow Bridge post of one of my pets is revived after days/weeks of inactivity. It freshens the hurt, but it also reaffirms for me that people CARE.
 

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This is a great question you're asking, and I'm anxious to see people's responses to it. You're right, many of us are struggling with this.

I wonder, for example, if the pain gets any -- I won't say "easier" -- but more manageable after you've lost a few cats? My loss was the first cat I've ever had, and only the second pet I've ever had if you include some guinea pigs in childhood. I thought that might have contributed to the fact that I was a mess when it happened (and have only evolved to a semi-mess now).

I will say that I got a lot more sympathy from people when Rookie died than when my father died in 2003. I think the days of "it was just a cat" are basically over, at least in my experience. People were amazingly helpful, supportive, and respectful when we lost Rookie. A lot of that was from people on the Forum, and I'm grateful to this day of everyone's kind responses.
 

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October said:
I wonder, for example, if the pain gets any -- I won't say "easier" -- but more manageable after you've lost a few cats?
Having lost three horses, one dog and 21 cats in the past 16yrs... It does and it doesn't get easier. I mean, it still hurts really bad but it kinda does get easier...only because I know what to expect out of my emotions.
 

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I think it also depends on whether it's an expected or unexpected death. I was much more traumatized by Onyx's death because it was only a little more than a day from the time she showed signs of illness. It was also the first time I lost a cat. On the other hand, Callie had been sick for over a year and it was wearing both of us down. While I was very sad, a big weight lifted off my shoulders. Where Onyx's death brought tears for nearly a year afterwards, after the first week, the only times I cried about Callie were when I picked up her ashes and when I buried them in the yard. I don't feel it means I mourned Callie any less, I was just more accepting of it.

I found that writing down all the funny/silly/sweet things they did really helped. I cried like crazy doing it, but I found what I had written about Onyx a couple years ago (she's been gone almost 12 years) and it brought back some really good memories, some things I had forgotten...and a few tears, but many more smiles.
 

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doodlebug said:
I think it also depends on whether it's an expected or unexpected death.
[a long illness with a known end approaching]...I was just more accepting of it.
You have a very good point. Losing Dusty so suddenly was a shock. I hadn't felt that before and it was difficult for me to handle because it wasn't what I was used to handling, like an expected euth-decision.
 

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I have lost many cats with my family growing up. Because they were indoor/outdoor we lost many to urban dangers. My mother solved the loss by rescuing more kitties. The one cat that was "mine" lived for almost 19 years and by then I had moved away to college and beyond. I was hurt by those losses but I think I never really felt the impact as I was much younger. I lost my cat, D'Artagnan, two years ago this April from heart failure. He was on medication for 3 1/2 years before I lost him. In the end, I was fortunate that he let me know clearly that it was time for him to go. We were both weary of twice daily medications, monthly ultrasounds, and me spending hours trying to get him to eat "just a little bit more." I still can't look at pictures of applehead Siamese cats without tearing up. I still can't talk about it without tearing up and my husband is even worse. He passed away right before his 9th birthday and was my first furry son. My husband surprised me with a kitten (Maine Coon - Baxter Rufus) a few months after D'Artagnan's death. It definitely provided a distraction, but didn't necessarily take the edge off. Time has taken the edge off, and I still have his ashes. I know I was a good mama to my baby, did all that I could but I agree . . . people definitely validate the feelings of loss experienced when you lose a pet now more than they did when I was younger. I received support and sympathy when I lost D'Artagnan and my boss even let me take time off work (thank goodness.) I lost one of my guinea pigs 2 weeks after D'Artagnan and while I miss her, I didn't mourn her. Of course, her loss was a bit eclipsed by D'Ar's death. I also lost a baby alpaca last year and am still shell-shocked about it. But it was a different kind of loss as I never "knew" the baby. It was more of an immense regret that this baby fought so hard to live and never got the chance to experience life. Anyway, that is my loss experience. I hope I can keep that "experience book" closed for many, many years to come.
 

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I have found that grief will always be there, even years after the event. However, the level of grief does ease off over time. Then it is mostly during quiet moments when you may reminisce, or something reminds you of the event that may trigger your emotions again. Actually typing this reponse is upsetting, particularly as I lost a much loved cat just a week ago! :(

From experience, letting your emotions show (cry, scream etc.) will help a lot! :crying Don't hide or try to bottle up your feelings. Let it out! Initially it will be 'painful', but afterwards you'll be much better off! Next, keep yourself busy (with other things not related to the event) mentally and physically. This will distract you from the event and help you cope.

Actually good physical exercise helps considerably in dealing with and reducing the effects and side effects of grief! :) In my case, I went cycling for miles and miles on the day of passing (and for several days afterwards), until I worked up a good sweat and was almost physically exhausted. I felt much better! :D
 

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I just never ever know what to say to people who've just lost a pet. Just saying "my condolences" doesn't seem enough, but honestly I'd rather not say anything than make up something.

It isn't that I don't care, it's just that I have no idea how to respond. I've been very fortunate in my short life that I've not had major grief to deal with, aside from 2 grandmothers and a couple of childhood pets, it's not really been something I've had to deal with....

I suppose I'm telling you this, because I sometimes have wondered if people notice that I don't post in the Rainbow Bridge section.
 

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We never get over it, of course. I let the sobs come, and every day the grief hides itself a bit, only to be resurrected even years later when we think of our precious pets.

Brispuss, my heart aches for you, because you're going through the worst pain now. There's a hole in your heart, and in my case, though I know I can't replace my little friends, I begin to look for a cat or dog that needs me. Taking care of an animal in need, an older animal, or one in the shelter, helps to ease my grief.

Hugh, saying, "I'm thinking of you" or "I'm sorry" lets people know you care. None of us knows what to say. But a verbal pat on the shoulder helps.

Brispuss, God bless you and give you peace.
 

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Huge said:
I suppose I'm telling you this, because I sometimes have wondered if people notice that I don't post in the Rainbow Bridge section.
I used to feel the same, Hugh, not knowing what to say, but then I thought, what if it was me? I would so appreciate every post, no matter what it said, really.
 

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Jeanie said:
There's a hole in your heart, and in my case, though I know I can't replace my little friends, I begin to look for a cat or dog that needs me. Taking care of an animal in need, an older animal, or one in the shelter, helps to ease my grief.
For me adopting my 10 year old FeLV+ cat Orlando was a turning point after I lost Tucker. I had been so depressed for almost a month and even though no cat could ever replace Tucker, bringing Orlando home began to bring back the happiness.

Hugh, I honestly never noticed that you don't post in the Rainbow bridge forum. All of us react differently to saying something to someone who has experienced a loss. And truthfully it has not been until the last five years or so that I have been able to do it. I think that experiencing your own losses helps to show you the right things to say. It's not the words so much as knowing there are others who understand.
 

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I grieved for a long time over the loss of Sam, even though I know and sort of have 'proof' that he is in a better place than our world. But the joyful memories of the time we had together have conquered the sadness and loss of his death.
I know that it honors Sam's memory to celebrate his life, and that is what he wants me to do. :cat
:eek:rcat
 

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Right now I am in a very tough place. Justin was the first cat that was "mine" that I have lost and his death was very sudden and he was not that old. The amount of grief I am feeling right now feels overwhelming. I don't know when I will feel better, but I know someday I won't always hurt this much.

Right now my plans are to make an online slideshow of my favorite pictures of Justin, and possibly a scrapbook as well. My husband and I started a list last night called "Things we want to remember about Justin" All the silly, annoying and sweet things. For a short time, we were smiling and laughing at all the memories we came up with. It makes it easier for me to be able to share this grief with my husband and he has reminded me not to focus too much on the last few days of Justin's life, but of all the good days we had before then.

I'm also making plans to try and keep busy and not just sit around the house. Right now it feels so incredibily lonely. I don't think there is any way through the pain but through it, but right now it hurts so much, that I can't really find much joy in life right now. :(

Hugh, I was the same way. I never knew what to say other than "I'm sorry" because until now, I had never been in this place of knowing what it is like to lose a pet. I think that's normal.
 

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I have lost two cats ever, Pepper, my first cat, on August 31st, 2006, and Dizzy will be a year ago this Monday, January 19th. Pepper was the absolute love of my life and my favorite thing ever in this whole world. I was about to get married when she became sick with acute kidney failure. As it turned out, she was not sick for very long before I had to put her to sleep because she could no longer eat or drink, but my soon-to-be-husband did not understand my request to postpone my honeymoon based on Pepper's illness, nor was he really there when I needed him to be there for me. Even after therapy and his apologizing and saying he did finally understand, it was basically too late. We never really recovered our bond and ended up separating, and ultimately divorcing. I wonder if Pepper were still here, if he and I would still be together.

For Pepper, I made a photo album and wrote down a list of all of her memories. I also got her an urn that I have on my dresser, a memorial necklace and bracelet, and I named a star after her in the constellation Andromeda, as she also went by "Princess P". :luv I miss her more than I can imagine ever missing anything. She was a little spitfire with a major attitude who only liked me, but she had an amazing personality, and we had an incredible bond.

My cat Dizzy had heart disease, was on Atenolol (which he had just been prescribed Monday at the local vet school post heart workup), stopped eating on a Thursday, and had to be euthanized on Sat. morning because his lungs were filled with fluid, and the vet could not clear them. It turns out he had a bad reaction to the Atenolol. I still feel terrible because he could possibly still be fine had he never been given the medicine, even though such reactions are very rare. He was only 8, and his death came as a big shock. I did most of the same things I did for him for Pepper, although I haven't done an album for him yet. He was a very quiet cat, and I just don't have the same amount of pictures of him.

My 7-year-old cat right now also has heart disease (among other issues), and I just hate thinking about what could possibly happen to him in the future. Having animals is so awarding and so amazing but it is also so hard when they are gone.

Karie
 

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marie73 said:
Huge said:
I suppose I'm telling you this, because I sometimes have wondered if people notice that I don't post in the Rainbow Bridge section.
I used to feel the same, Hugh, not knowing what to say, but then I thought, what if it was me? I would so appreciate every post, no matter what it said, really.
Good point.... I'd still feel unable to really comfort someone in that situation though, at least someone who I didn't know.

Edit: Had a bit more of a think.
I really honestly never know what to say. Ever. I was once accused on a different forum for not caring when I didn't post in a thread about a guy's mum who'd been killed in a road accident. The guy was 15. I told them the truth, that I thought that stranger's words couldn't possibly ease that kind of pain. Nothing more was said publicly, but I got a PM from the guy himself which made me really properly cry. Never happened before on a forum, never happened since. He just described his mother, andwhy he loved her. He also pointed out that he completely disagreed with the accusation levelled against me. It's always sad when someone dies, but this kid had more insight into the situation than clumsy old me could possibly have.
As I said, nothing like that has ever happened to me yet. So part of me feels that if I haven't felt that way myself, how can I comfort someone who has? I don't know what they're feeling, or what would help.
The other reason is our family's way of dealing with bad situations, is to laugh it out. We did so at my Gran's funeral in 03. At the wake, we told jokes. It was just our way of dealing with it. I maybe a bit of a buffoon, but I do know that not everyone likes this. So my instinctive reaction has to be halted, which is why I feel false when saying something like "my condolences" or whatever.
 

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Ugh! This entire thread has gotten me all teary but I think it's a great one because it's something that has or will effect all of us.
Every pet that has died has been terribly hard and, although the sadness never completely goes away, one day I'll just realize, "oh, I don't feel like someone has just ripped my heart out of my chest today!'
I do think doodlebug is right, a lot depends on how they die. All of mine have been hard but losing Little-one this past summer (sudden death syndrome) was absolutely devastating. That was July 3rd and to this day, for seemingly no reason (doing the dishes, cleaning the house) he'll come into my mind and I'll just tear up. And I am NOT a cryer! But as someone else said, I was so completely traumatized by it! I still miss him so much at times that I think I'll burst, but it passes.
For me it's helped to stay busy first off and getting little Lucy helped a lot too. Having someone else to worry about helped take my mind off missing Little-one a bit.
Unfortunately, I think the "Oh it's just a cat" attitude does still exist and it can be hard to take but those people are usually not pet owners and have no understanding of the bond. The day in day out routine of a pet and the hole they leave when they go. I think the other thing that really helps is having people around you who "get it" and don't make you feel stupid for feeling the way you do and talking about it.
I know this is going to sound new agey, but, whether a person or a pet, you absolutely must allow yourself to experience the grief, talk about it, write about it, be open and keep reminding yourself that, although it's extremely painful, it's part of life, it's part of loving, and it WILL get better.
 

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Very wise words, Victoria.

I think anyone's death who lived with you is harder than someone who didn't. If I suddenly lost Murphy (knock on wood), it would affect the way I open the door, the way I stand up from my chair, the way I do laundry, how I store things in the cabinet, how I sleep, how I make my bed, how I talk on the phone, you name it. In addition to mourning the loss of the cat for him/herself, there's also a big change in your daily routines, each of which reminds you that you lost the cat. That's more true when you have 1 cat, of course. Now that I think about it, I had everything working against me as far as dealing with Rookie's death.
 

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We too have lost two of our beauitful furbabies within the last 5 months. Sam was young and died unexpectantly from heart failure and Oliver was ill and died from cancer. Both deaths were so hard and getting condolences from catforum definatley helped. My husband always says they did'nt get a fair shake (this from a man who grew up on a farm and never grieved an animals death) but that at least while here they had a loving home and a family that could'nt stop kissing them! (although Sam tried to resist) Their ashes and collars and pics are in the living room along with a paw print with their names below. It helps to talk of them often and the pain does get easier with time. It is true,time heals all wounds.
 
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