Guest Post by Cat Scout Maggie

Hi everyone! We have a special post today about grief from Cat Scout Maggie. There is always so much loss in The Cat Blogosphere that she thought it would be helpful.  32-Maggie-Cougar-Hat

Greetings, everyone!  We’ve all experienced the loss of a special furiend, or friend.  Aunty Ellen and we have been talking about grieving, so I’d like to share a few thoughts.  Some of these are based on what our petsitting mom has shared with us, and some are from our own observations.  I have not yet had to grieve, but my roommate Felix has done several times.

When our peeps lose a pet, they experience many different kinds of grief.  If an animal dies suddenly from an unexpected medical condition or an unfortunate accident, our humans suffer the most, because the loss of their dear pet was a total surprise.  In those instances, it’s important for us remaining pets to offer them lots of rubs and purrs so they know we are grieving with them.  We must also expect that our humans might be a little aloof because they are not thinking about US at the moment, but about the departed one. This type of grief can take a long time to subside.

In the case of a long illness, debilitating medical condition or just “old age,” grief takes a different form.  Our humans have purrhaps started the grieving process ahead of time while the pet is still alive.  Recognizing that the illness or condition will bring eventual loss may help our peeps cope more easily, and knowing that they can make the pet’s life more comfortable during the twilight time can bring much solace to them.  When the animal finally passes on, our humans have had time to prepare and not feel guilty.  We can really help at this time by just being as affectionate as we can, while not getting in the way.

In some cases, when a pet has a diagnosed condition, our peeps can be in denial or not ready to “cope” with the added care, procedures and expense that might be called for.  As the animal’s condition worsens, our humans can often panic or search for extraordinary means of “making things better,” when it’s probably already beyond their control.  When this type of pet succumbs to its condition, peeps can often have a terrible grieving period because they feel guilty at not having done enough.  They may regard us remaining pets with some anger or frustration, but our job is just to “be there” and be ready to love and be loved when our human is ready.

When our peeps grieve, it’s important that they share their loss with special family and friends who are also animal lovers.  This support group can offer a huge boost of love and energy when our peeps are depressed.  Often, these good friends will send flowers, gifts or memorials of various kinds, and they all help ease the pain of loss.

In our household, we are lucky to have adequate land for pet burial plots and commemoration areas.  Our mom has always held a “wake” for a departed furiend, and the remaining pets gather round to pay tribute and last respects to their late colleague.

Then, mom buries the dear departed pet in a special place in the garden.  Friends have often sent floral gifts, plaques and even a weathervane to honor the lost pet.

Zip flowers1 (2)            100_0003             100_0004  

Holding a wake, if it is possible, offers a way for our peeps to grieve with us, and we with them.  It allows a celebration of the departed one’s life, and helps turn that pet’s life into a pawsitive and happy experience rather than a frustrating, depressing or failed one.

For pets who are cremated, it’s nice to also hold a celebration so that our humans and any remaining pets can commemorate the departed one’s life while not being able to still see or smell that dear pet.  Some veterinarians and crematoria create “paw print” memory boxes so that our humans have something tangible to hold, touch and cherish in addition to their pet’s ashes.

Many peeps find it healing and therapeutic to create a memory book of their dear departed pets.  It can contain photographs, stories, comments from friends and admirers or whatever else helps celebrate the departed pet’s life and adventures.  Bloggers have a rich source of memory material with which to honor their departed furiends.

Grieving the loss of a pet is sometimes more acute than grieving the loss of another human family member or friend.  Our peeps must know and feel that we grieve with them, and we also grieve for them when they are ill, bedridden, depressed or anxious.  We pets help ease our humans’ pains, stress and worries, and we are grateful when they accord us the same honor as we age, get ill or meet an unexpected end to a glorious life.

Grieving is an essential part of healing, and we in the animal kingdom sometimes understand this better than our humans do.  Remember, rubs and purrs go a long way!

 

Thank you Maggie for this excellent post. I just want to add 2 links to other posts on grief that are well worth reading.

Dezisworld and Sonel’s World have both recently written about grief.

 

47 thoughts on “Guest Post by Cat Scout Maggie

  1. We have a special cemetery and several memorial pieces. I don’t think you ever get over the loss of a loved one, you just learn to deal with it. Love never dies. The ones who leave are always a part of us, within us. We are better for having loved them, and bein loved by them.

    • Very true, you put into words my thoughts exactly. I have all my kitties cremated and hope to have all the ashes buried with me.

  2. Thank you for sharing Maggie’s wonderful post on loss and grieving. It was really helpful. Being here in Blogville has really helped Mom a lot having other pet peeps to share life with and she really appreciates it.
    Luvs
    Marty

    • I agree being part of a group that understands how painful these losses are really does help. When I lost KaChoo in 2010 I didn’t have that and it was so much harder.

  3. Such wise and compassionate words! I do understand the difference in grief when there’s been a long illness and aging and when the death is sudden. We lost our Chase Bird, our beautiful gray tabby boy, unexpectedly this past October. And we didn’t get to say goodbye. The shock was terrible. I still have times when I just can’t believe he’s gone. Thank you to our kitties and to all of you kitties for the comfort and love you give us humans.

  4. My human is different from most and tends to grieve inwardly – ceremonies and physical remembrances make her really, really uncomfortable, and she’d never have a grave or an urn for any of us kitties because she doesn’t like to be reminded of death, only of life events. But this was a really good post for most humans.

  5. We lost a kitty suddenly, and could not say goodbye, we lost another to an acute illness, and had furry little time to say goodbye…and we lost two to long illnesses and elder-age issues.
    They all hurt in their own ways, and even the still with us at the time kitties had different ways to cope/grieve.

    Meowmy did not have any social interactions like here in ‘bloggerland’, and maybe it would have been a lot easier with the love and support she has found here, such as with sicknesses, etc.

    Thanks for this great posting, and now meowmy is spending a few moments remembering our fur-angels:)

    • I agree they are all difficult in their own ways. I know not getting to be with KaChoo ( she was at Tufts) was the hardest of all. Part of the difficulty was not having a support group like the blogosphere. I know losing my 2 so close together was tough, but having so much support and knowing others really understood that kind of grief really helped. I have all my angels photos in the entertainment center and I say goodnight to them every night. XO

  6. Thank you for a timely post. I’ve had two kinds of grief – where you’re sort of prepared for it (Piper who died of old age) and sudden death (LadyBird who was taken from us so fast) where you don’t have time to get used to the idea. Sudden death is so much harder to move through. I’m doing my best to help mom through her grief over LadyBird. Pawkisesses and angel tears to the 15and Meowing household!!

    • Toby, you are a sweetie to hep your Mom. Kitties are so good at comforting their humans. I am sorry your Mom had 2 losses so close together. XO

  7. Cat Scout Maggie is very, very wise! I will keep this post for future reference. Our dear Elsie is 18 or 19 and nearing the end. We are trying to prepare and brace ourselves for her loss …but it is so sad.

    • Maggie did write an excellent post. I am sorry your Elsie’s time is running out- there is never enough time. XO

  8. This is such a wonderful post. The grieving process is something that, although often difficult to talk about, really needs to be addressed. So thank you so much for sharing and explaining this very important information, Maggie.

  9. This is an excellent, very thoughtful piece. Our Mom is looking at Toby now, wondering… he just isn’t aging well, and she truly doesn’t believe he will live as long as I, Leia, will. At least not in a healthy, happy state, anyway. So the pre-grieving stage, yeah, there is some of that.

    Thank you for putting this out today.

    • That was smart to take paw prints. Our vet’s office usually does that before sending them off for cremation, but they forgot to with Stinky so now I will never have her paw print-except in my heart.

  10. This is an informational post. After Tucker died, I found a book helpful that’s called Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers by Liz Eastwood. It’s written specially for the loss of a cat. I also had a memorial necklace made using a bit of his remains. I treasure this.

    • Thank you for letting us know about the book. I am going to see if the library has that. I also have a necklace with some of KaChoo’s ashes. XO

  11. Kitties are definitely helpful in the grieving process. I found I had to be strong for Carmine when Jewel passed because he was so lost without her. We had to help each other get through the intense and horrible sadness.

  12. manee thanx two ewe cat scout maggie for takin de time ta put thiz post two gether; it iz inn deed veree help full…

    heer in trout towne we haz had sudden loss, age, and illness…

    and it IS nice two haz de support & understanding frum otherz

    frank lee, two thoze who say…he was just a pet; …. we reply… we R sorre ya haz never experienced de troo love//companionship a pet can give ♥♥

    phoebe…hope ewe R home bye now & all went well♥♥

    heerz two a king oh de herrings kinda week oh end everee one ♥♥♥

    • Thank you for thinking of Phoebe.
      Loss is hard whether is is quick or slow. I agree, it is helpful to have a support group like the blogosphere. XO

  13. Fanks fur da posty Maggie and da shout out awnty Ellen. Mommy sez she’s never felt anger towards any remainin’ furries, only an overwhelmin’ luv. But mommy luvs to luv us and doesn’t ever like to think of bein’ without us. We’s sendin’ lots of hugs and purrayers and some fur Phoebe’s purrcedure today too. Hope you have a wunnerful weekend.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  14. This is an excellent post. My mum and dad have had many cats over the years and miss them all. When Eric died he had such a good day out in the field and even chased me. They really thought he was going to get better, and then that night he had a devastating stroke. They rushed him to the emergency vet who said there was no hope of him recovering, and he was highly likely to have a saddle thrombus within a very short time. They had no choice but to let him go. They brought him home and the next morning I watched them bury him in the Memorial Garden where all their cats are buried. Each has a rose bush planted on their grave. My mum and dad have never really come to terms with their grief for him. I try very hard to help them and my mum says she doesn’t know what she will do when I have to leave her.

    • I am sure losing Eric was hard on you too sweet Flynn. I pray every day that you will be with your folks for a long time. That is nice that they plant a rosebush in memory. XO

  15. Very very good Scout Maggie…it is very important that we never forget the pets who paved the way to our peeps hearts for us.
    hugs madi your bfff

  16. Grieving – in whatever way works for each individual – is so very important with regard to the passing of our furry family members. Very nice post 🙂

  17. Dear Readers, Thank you for your sweet words about my Post. Your heartwarming comments and stories just go to show that grieving is an essential part of our animal/human relationship, and we kitties/pets try to give back as much as we get from our loving peeps. The sadness in writing it was coupled with the joy of knowing that we animals and peeps will all cross the Rainbow Bridge some day, and we’ll be reunited with our loved ones and the Grand Architect.

    • It was an excellent post that brought a lot of comments which means it helped people to talk about their grief. Thank you for writing it.

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