It hurts. You feel real physical pain-- a black hole in the center of you that once was filled with love and laughter and joy. Now it is a void, only filled with emptiness. You sob for days, and just when you think you've shed your last tear, you chance upon a memento: a worn-out sock in the corner of the room, a dish you had customized with your beloved's name, and the tears flood again. Finally, one day, you accept your emptiness and your eyes become as dry and barren as your heart. "I'll never, NEVER replace him (her)", you state vehemently, when friends timidly approach the subject.
Frequent visitors to this site will know immediately that I am not talking about the loss of a spouse, or even a child, although the emotions are just as real. I'm talking about the loss of your cat, who perhaps was the only creature on Earth who loved you unconditionally. "What's the big deal? It was only a cat. Get over it." Most friends will not be crass enough to voice this opinion, but you can still sense the unspoken words in some.
Here are some Dos and Don'ts for helping to ease the pain of the loss of a cat:
- Do: Allow yourself to cry. Holding back the tears will only stuff all that emotion inside, where it will fester until it surfaces again at unforeseen times.
- Don't: Try to tough it out alone. If you have children, don't feel that you have to be "strong" for them. Sit with your child and say, "I'm sad because Tuffy died, aren't you?" and let the conversation go where it will. You'll not only help yourself, but also you will help your child develop coping skills
- Do: If you are of a creative bent, create a memorial album for your departed cat, or make a 3-dimensional shadow box with memorabilia of your cat. You can also create an online memorial on this site with up to two photos, using a form. (See the top link underneath this article.)
- Do: Talk to an empathetic friend, preferably one who loves cats as much as you. If you don't have any close friends or family members that you feel would understand, visit the About Cats Forum. We have a special folder for Support and Encouragement, and everyone, old or new members alike, draw an enormous amount of comfort from this supportive community.
- Don't: Write off the thought of ever sharing your life with another cat. We'll talk more about that on the next page.
- Do: Focus on things that make you happy. Sometimes we forget to fully appreciate the beauty around us, until we are forced to think about what we've lost.
Take time to share an intimate minute with someone you love. If you have other cats or dogs, spend additional time with them. They may be suffering the same kind of lost feelings you have, and will appreciate knowing that you are not also going to leave.
Take the time to smell the flowers, glory at a magnificent sunset, listen to some good music, or pick up a book of poetry. Have lunch with a good friend; see a "feel-good" movie, or rent a video or DVD and enjoy a film at home. As much as you may hate to face it, life does have a way of going on, and time really does heal these wounds.
Next page > Facing the need for a new cat