After losing my beautiful girl so unexpectedly and suddenly last Thursday, I’ve been struggling.  I’ve experienced loss before.  I lost my first cat, Feebee, after a lengthy battle with lymphoma in April of 2000.  I lost my office cat Virginia two years later after a brief decline, caused by her FIV positive status.  And I lost Buckley Thanksgiving weekend of 2008 after receiving a dire prognosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy a few months earlier.  All of these losses were difficult.  I coped as best I could.  I survived.  And I thought that, as a result of getting through these past losses, I would be better prepared to deal with this most recent one.  After all, I’m the person others turn to when they need help coping with losing a pet.

But when I had to let Amber go after a brief, severe illness, I was completely blind-sided by the depth and intensity of my grief.  I had never lost a cat without having lots of time to prepare.  Anticipatory grief, like all grief, is painful, but by its very nature, it is, for lack of a better word, a bit more gentle.  This sudden, unexpected grief has been simply devastating.  I’m still unable to really put this experience into words, and I’m still struggling.

Amber was my heart.  She was the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, and it just doesn’t feel right to return to “business as usual” when I’m still in deep mourning.

The one bright spot during these dark days have been my friends – both real life and online.  The outpouring of support from my online friends has been overwhelming, and incredibly comforting.   For the most part, these are people I’ve never met in person.  We’ve connected through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail.  Most of us have never even spoken on the phone.  And yet, they’ve all been there for me in various ways – offering cyber hugs, expressing their sadness and support in comments on this site and on Facebook, sending private messages and e-mails.  Their love and support feels no less real than the love and support of my real life friends.  I’m blessed to have every single one of them in my life.

Several of my online friends also ran tributes to Amber on their blogs.  So, instead of our regular fare of cat health information, feline lifestyle and book reviews, this week, I’ll be honoring Amber’s memory and celebrating her life by running some of these tributes here on The Conscious Cat.

Thank you, all of you, for your outpouring of support – each and every one of your comments, e-mails and private messages means so much.

16 Comments on This Week on The Conscious Cat: A Tribute to Amber

  1. Ingrid, you have given me wonderful comfort, support and love after the loss of my Hattie. My heart is with you now over the loss of your dear Amber. Please know that I am here for you to share your grief with. Your words gave me strength and hope when I felt so devastated with sadness. I would love to be able to give you the same comfort you gave me. The way I know how to do that best is by sharing with you what I have learned from you. Amber will always be in your heart and you will always be in her heart. The soul connection between you two is so powerful and will always be there, allowing you to gather each others wisdom and nurture each others hearts. I’m thinking about you and sending my love, Susan

  2. Leslie, Allegra has become much more affectionate since Amber has been gone. I think she’s trying to step up in her own kitten way.

    Allia, thank you.

  3. Thanks, Mason – I know Amber will continue to inspire me once I get through this first awful stage of grieving.

    Leslie, thanks for your beautiful words.

    Marg, thank you so much for all the purrs and prayers. Allegra is not much of a cuddle kitty yet, but she’s coming around. She is a big comfort.

    Daniela, you are so right – friends are what keeps us going in these dark times.

    Debbi, thank you so much for your good wishes and for understanding. I can’t imagine not having had a chance to say good bye. At least I had that.

    Mary, thank you for your beautiful words and your friendship. It means a lot.

    Debbie, it means so much that so many people have reached out to let me know that they care. Thank you!

  4. I think I can speak for all the subscribers of your blog when I say “We understand and we care”. Take as long as you need “getting back to normal” (whatever that is!). Take care–you and your beloved Amber are in our thoughts.

  5. Ingrid, I’m typing through my tears here, as I imagine the day I’ll have to part with Idgie, and knowing what a wretched feeling of loss that will be. Knowing you’re going through this right now just makes me want to be able to be there and give you a warm hug and sit quietly with you in understanding of your grief. I lost my mom suddenly like this five years ago, and I know the feeling you’re experiencing right now of being underwater, difficult to remember to breathe, and just plain empty. I’m glad Allegra knew to come into your life in time to be here for you now, when you really need her. I’m glad you’re taking your comfort where you can find it from all who love and care for you. I’m proud to be among those people.

  6. Ingrid, my heart breaks for you. I completely understand the feeling of being blindsided with such a loss. I never had a chance to say goodbye to either of my treasures. I think it is appropriate for you to honor Amber. This is probably how you need to deal with your grieving.

    Best Wishes

  7. Ingrid, we that are surrounded by caring, compassionate people, even if we have never met, are by far the most fortunate in our grief. For we don’t have to explain our grief; we don’t have to wonder if they understand our feelings of great loss; and we know they each have suffered as we have.

    This comforting circle certainly has helped me with each of my losses and they are in my thankful thoughts each day. And the ones I have lost–my husband to an aneurysm, Bo and Nani to HCM, Winnie to a brain tumor…

    Their names are on my calendar so I celebrate quietly their birthdays; their photos are all over the house and their presence is in my heart…forever

  8. Ingrid, you described it so perfectly. I guess preparing can be just a bit better when we grieve because at least we know what’s coming. Surprise on this matter is shocking and devastating.

    But no matter how experienced we are with losing loved ones, I think we will always needs lots of support when it happens again. I’m happy you have such a great network of friends. That’s what keeps us all going when are blue.


  9. We are sending lots more purrs and prayers to help you get through this very sad time. You have been in our thoughts every day and wish there was more we could do to help you through this really bad time.
    I really think it does help for an animal to be old or sick for a long time when they have to go to the bridge. It is still so sad but the all of a sudden trip to the bridge is so very hard. And it never gets easier.
    So try to give Allegra a hug if she will let you. She needs you now a lot.
    Take care.

  10. Ingrid, one of my cats now is my heart, and I had very deep connections to 3 other cats in my life, and never thought I could love a cat the way I love my Diego, who is actually no angel. It never matters why a certain animal is your heart – that’s the way love is.

    I’m glad that so many of your friends have reached out to you in your time of mourning. I know how this feels and I am so sorry. With time, it will get a bit easier. Just know you gave her the best life possible.

  11. So sorry for your loss. It is difficult to accept a sudden loss. To some cats are just pets, but to others of us they are a part of our family – our kids. For that reason is loss is deep. Each day it will lessen some though it will never completely go away.

    Since Amber was the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, think of it as her way to continue helping and inspiring those who come after her.

    Sending you hugs, warm thoughts and prayers of comfort.

    Thoughts in Progress

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