My household lost a key member this week: One of my two cats, Josie, passed away. While Josie had been sick for awhile, she was being carefully monitored. Thus, while we knew it might happen soon, we really didn’t want to admit it’d happen soon. Josie was adopted in 2005 and she was the runt of the litter. She and her siblings were in the newspaper as being up for sale and soon after, I was in the passenger seat, holding her in a blanketed basket as she made her way into her new home.
Josie was a finicky cat – while she was constantly loved, she also suffered from a few issues that made her a bit more difficult. She was anxious and a bit depressed and with every change that occurred, she suffered even more. Being in my mid ’20s, change happened constantly. While Josie was constantly kept in mind, sometimes it was difficult to make sure that she would be able to properly adapt.
Pet loss is a tough thing to deal with. A good pet has an influence on your everyday life – and while you can communicate with them to a point, sometimes they just can’t tell you what’s wrong. It’s devastating when it happens and can often stick with you for years.
Here are some ways to cope, if you’ve dealt with something similar.
1. Don’t immediately try to replace your pet. Let’s be serious – it’s a rebound, just like an immediate new boyfriend or girlfriend might be. It’s great to have something to fill the void but make sure you move on when you’re ready. If you’ve had an older dog or cat, remember that a puppy or kitten will require a lot more attention and training.
2. Don’t shrug off giving your pet a proper ceremony. I’m not saying you should invest in an overly expensive casket or invite family members, but some type of closure will help you to move on. If your pet passed away at a vet, even lighting a candle in memory at home might help.
3. Don’t look through all of your pet pictures immediately. I made the mistake of looking at kitten-Josie pictures a few hours after burial and I was a wreck. Reflecting immediately will intensify everything. Reflection is important, but viewing a pet’s entire lifespan via photo should be done at least a few months after the fact. Let it sink in first and deal with the day-to-day.
4. Tell people what happened. If you’re in a lousy mood since your pet died, people will understand. Whether it be a dog or a goldfish, everyone gets it. While you shouldn’t use your pet’s death as an excuse to tell off co-workers, they’d get if you’re a bit sensitive due to the news. I posted a picture of Josie and me on Facebook with a caption including her birth and death dates and it got the message out that something traumatic happened that might make me a little off.
5. Avoid people telling you what you should have done. Sure, there are numerous, pricey solutions out there that may have given your pet a few extra months of life. But only you know what you’re capable of. While people might tell you of the blood tests and extra exams that could have prevented the matter, you know whether or not it was reasonable to drop a grand based on chance. While I love my pets, I also know when it’s way out of my financial boundary to get those extra tests, just in case. If you’re financially able to pay for food, litter and necessary vet visits, you shouldn’t feel guilty if a probable surgery that won’t guarantee pet survival for much longer is unreasonable at the time. It’ll always be a tough call. If you truly loved your pet, please trust your initial instinct.
Josie will always be a part of me and while I grieve, I realize that we gave her a great life regardless of the outcome. I’d love for our HelloGiggles readers to share their own experiences with pet loss in the comments. Just remember – you did an amazing job.
And Josie? We all love you.