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When grieving it’s hard to look past the pain and try to understand why it happened. Some people may never find the peace that they seek or the answers they are looking for. But in truth finding hope or some sort of reasoning is what helped pull me through.
A Brief Back Story
To help shed some light I want to share a little bit of history. During my childhood, there was only one death in the family that happened when I was just 6 years old. My grandpa Don had unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack. I remember being sad and knowing I wouldn’t see him again. But it was a concept I didn’t fully understand.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago and I am a 29-year-old woman with no kids. I love my cats and they are like my children. Honestly, I am home most days and I love it but it does get lonely very often. My cats Chloe and Cali normally hung out on the porch so when I needed to cheer up I would go out and play with them for a bit.
My cat Cali had such a spunky personality compared to my older cat Chloe who is 7.
Cali loved to hunt and explore. She even took on a little garden snake, yikes! Each morning when I walked out to their shed I would here Cali land on the floor. As soon as I opened the door she would dart out the door and wait for me by the same tree. Once I got close it was a race to the porch. Almost every morning it was the same routine. Without even realizing it I had built a morning and evening routine around my cats. After leaving my career I had no routine anymore with the exception of caring for my cats.
The Grief of Losing A Pet: Losing A Friend
It was a usual morning and I had let the cats out like I do every morning. I went to the house and started working on some client’s task. I will never forget that I was sad that day but I had no idea why, even though it was a gorgeous day. My husband and his employee were in Louisville and working at a job. I had stepped out a couple times that day and noticed that Cali was gone. Naturally, I figured she had taken off hunting in the woods behind the house. As the day got later I started to worry. When my husband got home that evening we walked the entire property, the fields behind the property, and visited our neighbors.
There was no sign of her anywhere. I had hoped that maybe she wandered too far. I sat out on the porch until it got too dark but she never came home. I remembered thinking of how much I hated our road. Cars sped up and down all day and almost everyone does 20 over the speed limit. I went to bed late and woke up every couple hours to check the porch, hoping to see her. But nothing happened.
The next morning was a complete opposite compared to the day before.
It was a raining like crazy that morning. Like every Saturday my husband and I went to the shop to catch up on some work. I had forgotten to drop our Tax check the day before so I decided to go to the Post Office to make sure the check was sent that day. As I pulled out of our driveway and reaching the end of our driveway I saw my precious Cali on the side of the road. The emotions and tears just overwhelmed me. I quickly called my husband and could barely get the words out. He quickly put it together and asked me where she was. We hung up and I drove to the post office that was 5 minutes from our house.
The drive to and from the post office I could barely breathe and couldn’t stop crying.
I had expected to see my husband in the neighbor’s yard scooping her up but he wasn’t and her body was gone. As I pulled into the driveway I saw Louis trying to hurry and dig the hole before I saw. But the ground was so hard he couldn’t get it deep enough. So we both pulled up to the shop and got out the tractor.
My husband insisted that I didn’t help bury her but I wanted to, hoping it would help with the grieving process. Finally, we had a hole deep enough to put her in and I filled up the hole. At the moment I was thankful for the rain so my husband wouldn’t see the tears but I could feel the hot tears against the cold rain.
The Mourning Process
The mourning process took days. I was ready to get past the weekend so I could focus on work. I could barely sleep, cried constantly, and began to blame myself. I knew it wasn’t healthy but I began to look up things and it made the pain worse. Thankfully, I pulled myself away and started to look for support groups.
I know this sounds silly to some but I never lost someone or a pet of my own since my grandpa passed away.
Deep sorrow is not an emotion I was used to experiencing. My cats are like my children and losing Cali was a huge blow.
After getting through Monday I had improved and slept all night. I begin to think a lot about my time with Cali and even though moments brought me tears I am starting to be able to reminisce without breaking down. With support from my friends who listened, writing about her, and spending time with my older cat Chloe, I’ve started to heal.
Finding the Positive While Grieving
One of the biggest keys for me to get through losing Cali was finding the positivity. At first, it was hard to think like this because how dare I consider anything positive about losing a pet. But looking back now I needed some positivity to pull me out of the grief.
One of the downfalls is that Cali would follow me everywhere and it scared me when she got close to the road.
She was a very curious cat. Exactly, a week after her passing I was working on some much-needed yard work. My cat Chloe will not pass a certain point in our yard. She wants nothing to do with the road and was like this long before Cali. Working in the yard put me really close to the road and I began to ponder what it would have been like if Cali was there. Would she have run into the road then? Most likely and it would have crushed me if I saw it happened.
Another detail is that I was grateful we found her before anything else did. I was able to bury her as a whole and see her exactly as I will always remember her.
I had forgotten how Chloe was before I got Cali a year ago. That Friday I was reminded of how playful Chloe was.
She stayed with me all day and never left my side. Even at 7 years old she tried to wrestle sticks with me. On a day I had expected to be sad was actually halfway decent and that was because of Chloe. She has always been able to sense my emotions and been there when I needed her.
About a month later we had found a fox making a Den under the shed that the cats stay in. The fox even attacked the chickens next door. He was desperate and looking for anything. I thought of Cali and she was a small cat. What if I had lost her to a predator? I was thankful that was not the outcome.
I realized after losing Cali I had realized how much I had favored her over my other cat Chloe. It made me sad to know that I wasn’t giving Chloe as much love as I should have. Since then there have been cuddles and appreciating her as much as I could possibly. I hope that after this I will never favor one over the other.
If you struggle with finding the positivity in a situation you’re not the only one.
I know this is hard to hear and maybe even think about. It was hard for me at first but eventually, it did help me cope with my sadness. I still get choked up and hope to see her playing in the woods even though I know it will never happen.
If you’re a fellow furbaby parent like me I want you to take one thing away today.
Pets are more than pets as you probably know. They are a part of our family and daily lives. Like us, they have one life and as their guardian, it is up to us to give them the best life we can. Sure, we have bad days and we go through the motions of life. But you know one day they won’t be there and when they’re gone we will be wishing for one more moment with them, so why not make it now.