Amber The Conscious Cat

When I had to let Amber go after a brief, sudden illness last May, I wasn’t prepared for the depth of my grief. It hadn’t even been a year and a half after I lost Buckley. Here I was, faced with grieving yet again.

It’s not like I hadn’t experienced loss in my life before. Most of us who’ve reached the age I’m at have had to deal with loss. I lost my mother in 1994 after a brief illness. I lost my soul mate cat Feebee in 2000 after a valiant seven-month battle with lymphoma. I lost my office cat Virginia in 2002 after a brief decline following a fourteen-year-long life with FIV. I lost my father in 2004 to heart disease and cancer. And as those of you who’ve read Buckley’s Story know, I lost Buckley after she was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy and given a very poor prognosis that she outlived by a considerable amount of time.

I had lots of experience with grief, and I survived all of these losses more or less gracefully. I learned that there is only one way to deal with grief, and that’s to go through it. There is no way around it. You can’t run from it.  I learned about the stages of grief. I learned that you don’t go through them step by step, but rather, that you sometimes cycle through them over and over, until, at some point, mercifully, you may find that you’ve reached the final stage, acceptance. But even reaching acceptance doesn’t mean that you ever really get “over” a loss.

So you’d think that with all this personal experience in grieving, I would have been better prepared to handle losing Amber. The force of my grief over losing her caught me completely off guard. And I realized, in the middle of the shock, the tears, and the pain, that I had never lost a loved one as unexpectedly and suddenly as I lost her. Twelve short days, from the time that she was mildly ill to the time that I had to let her go. I never expected her to not get better when I agreed to hospitalize her. I always expected her to come home.  Come home she did, but not in the way I would have wanted her to. Because of her poor prognosis, after four days of intensive care, I made the agonizing decision to stop treatment, bring her home, and spend the afternoon with her before my vet came to the house that evening to help her with a peaceful transition.

As with all my losses, there were commonalities. Despite the incredible outpouring of love and support from not only my ”real life” friends, but also my online friends,  there were times when I felt alone in my grief, disconnected from the world around me and normal everyday activities. I was physically exhausted most of the time – grief takes a toll not just emotionally,  but physically. I tried to take care of myself as best as I could, by trying to eat regular meals, getting some exercise, and staying connected with friends.  But it was hard.  Going out into the world was challenging – how could life be going on when my world had changed irrevocably?

In The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood, author Nadine M. Rosin, after losing her nineteen-year-old dog Buttons, writes:  “…being out in public felt totally bizarre, as if the world had come to an end because of some horrible disaster, life as we’d known it on the planet was over, but I seemed to be the only person who knew about it.” I’ve rarely heard this particular emotion of feeling out of synch with the rest of the world expressed better. I limited social engagements to activities with friends who understood my grief, and I’m fortunate that most of the people in my life are animal people, and they do understand. I simply didn’t have it in me to make polite chit-chat with those who didn’t.

I knew I’d make it through, just like I made it through all my other losses. But one year later, I also realize that this loss left me forever changed in ways the others didn’t. And perhaps it had to do with the suddenness of the loss.

With all my other losses, I’ve always had time to prepare for loss. While anticipatory grieving is difficult, I believe that it does help in the end – you have time to get used to the idea of eventually having to go on without your loved one. But Amber was a healthy, happy cat who had rarely been sick in her life. There was nothing that could have prepared me for this.   It was much harder, much more painful, and much more complicated than my other losses. With the others, I rarely second-guessed myself. I didn’t rail at the universe for having my loved one taken from me so quickly. I didn’t blame myself for decisions I made during Amber’s last two weeks.  I just grieved.

A year later, I can finally say that I’ve found peace. And I learned this, yet again: grief is a process. It requires being gentle with yourself as you go through it. It requires allowing those who understand to support you, and staying away from those who don’t. It requires courage to face the pain, rather than run from it.

Grief can be a transformational experience.  It rips your heart wide open, and you’ll never be the same. It’s up to each individual whether they’ll choose to let grief destroy them, or whether they’ll do the challenging and difficult work that will ultimately allow it to be transformed into personal growth and expansion.

To honor Amber, her love, and all she has brought into my life, I didn’t have any other choice except to let something good come from this devastating loss.

64 Comments on Coping with Unexpected Loss: A Personal Journey

  1. Thank you to everyone for sharing their stories. It has really helped me cope. I lost my sweet baby love Monkey last week to lymphoma and my heart is absolutely shattered. I don’t think I will ever be the same without my baby girl. She was 15 and 1/2 , sphynx/cornish rex mix and she was absolutely beautiful. <3 She was my alien kitty and one of my greatest loves. I have another cat, Kitty, who is my love as well and I know and can tell he is also hurting. We miss her so much and her abscence is painful. </3 Monkey had been diagnosed with small intestinal disease back in March and she was put on steriods, anti-diarreah meds, anti nausea and RX food. A month and a half went by and she had lost more weight and was very finicky about eating. Her B12 was also extremely low so she was getting B12 shots every week for a month and then monthly so we went for her monthly B12 shot and to see the vet on 5/21 and she gave me the news that most likely my baby had intestinal lymphoma. She said that with her age it may not be a good idea to try to put her on chemo and said she most likely had a few months to live. Little did I expect for her to die 4 days later 🙁 My heart is broken. I had all these plans about staying home from work and just being with her and making her last few months loving and memorable. May 25th was a chaotic day and I will never forget it.. I wish things had gone differently but I can't change the past. I'm trying my best to work through my grief and sharing this story helped a lot. Sending love and healing to anyone that has lost a fur baby. <3

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. I stumbled across your blog while looking for ways to cope with the loss of my baby and your posts have really helped me. Hermes was only a year old and seemed perfectly healthy last week, but Monday seemed to be lethargic and wasn’t eating. Tuesday he was bloated and hiding under the bed so I took him into the emergency vet where they diagnosed him with wet FIP. I brought him home and I thought I’d have time, I immediately joined a facebook group and was getting everything ready to get him medication, I was ready to fight for him, when he just went to sleep. It was a complete shock to lose him just like that, and I’m still reeling from it, but it’s comforting to know I’m not alone in this experience and pain.

    • I’m so sorry, Andrew. FIP is such a horrible disease. Losing a young cat so suddenly is devastating, my heart goes out to you.

  3. Thank you all for sharing your stories. It helps my grieving process to know that I am not alone.

    My beloved boy Snowy passed away last Sunday. I had last seen him a few days prior on Thursday when I visited my parents and he was his usual playful self. Our helper texted me on Saturday night saying that he was not eating properly and looked fatigued. We rushed him to the nearest clinic on Sunday. He became breathless during the drive there. He suffered a cardiac arrest soon after we got to the clinic. The doctors tried to revive him for almost 30mins but unfortunately Snowy had left us.

    We adopted Snowy from SPCA in 2019 as a 2 year old. He was a healthy boy aside from having some food allergies. I had presumed this bout of illness was due to him eating some insect or another he wasn’t supposed to, this had caused him stomach ailments in the past. Who’d have known that my poor boy had a heart problem.

    Our helper is distraught. She was closest to Snowy after I moved to my own apartment earlier this year. I wish I had visited Snowy more in the days leading up to Sunday. He was always the first person I looked for whenever I visited my parents…

  4. My beloved beautiful Cody died last Friday after being hit by a car. I found him badly injured and we rushed to the vet. It became clear that his prognosis was not good and I had to make the excruciating decision to euthanize. Ahhhhh! And now at the house with his sister kitty, we are both so bereft. Ziggy is walking around the house meowing and looking for him. Our hearts are broken. I”m living in that surreal haze of disbelief and shock…won’t he come back? We miss you and love you Cody! Please come back my sweet boy! It’s too quiet and empty without you my little prince….

    • Oh, Wendy. That’s heartbreaking. What a horrendous decision to be faced with. It will be tough coping with this, so be kind to yourself. I still miss my little prince who was cruelly taken from me in October 2019. You must pay Ziggy ample attention, as she will not understand his absence.

  5. Thank you for this article, it fully sums up how I’m feeling
    All other resources I have read refer to older cats and grieving before they pass, however with our little Hugo he was only 3 and he didn’t appear different or ill , just passed away in the night in our neighbours garden.
    He was so small at only 3 years old so I feel angry and in despair that he is gone and don’t feel I can tell anyone,
    It’s good to know I’m not alone in how I’m feeling. Thank you

  6. Thank you so much for this post. That sense of being separated from others because of the enveloping grief really resonated with me. We lost our wonderful, sweet, loving, brave little tiger 12 days ago, hit by a car, we presume. We wanted him to have a long, happy life, but he wasn’t even 8 years old. He loved his freedom and I couldn’t have had him any other way, but I can’t believe my worst nightmare has come true. We so hoped that we had moved to somewhere safe for him. This year is very difficult for other reasons, and without him it’s hard to carry on. He brought such joy into my life.

    • Feeling your pain Rosina and offering you all of my apologies.

      My girl died over the weekend after being hit by a car on my road and now every time a car drives past at speed I want to run out and scream at them. Words can’t comprehend the loss of a cat because cats treat their owners like none else in their world. Cat’s have such special relationships their owners, something you can’t quite explain without understanding how they love.

      I’ve found the worst thing for me has been expecting her to do her usual stuff, like chasing me for her dinner, waiting patiently by the door for me to let her out and scratching at the door when she wants to come in. Most of my sadness is turning in and out of anger for the person that did this and did not stop but none of that will make me feel better.

      I wanted you to know that you’re not alone and I’m finding some comfort in the thought of our cats playing together somewhere happily right now.

      • Thank you, Georgia. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I share your anger – it’s so frustrating when there’s nothing to direct it at. Whoever did this has no idea of the world of pain they’ve plunged a stranger into. And I know what that gaping void in day-to-day life feels like. I still can’t really believe that my boy is gone – he should be enjoying his naps, tasty food and cuddles in the normal way. It’s such a senseless waste when these vulnerable little creatures were so loved; they gave us the chance to give love and that was so precious.

      • Hi there, sorry this is a couple of years later, but Friday I lost my little kitten Milo after he was hit by a car on my own street to, the young girl did stop I heard I never went my partner and dad did as I just couldn’t see him, I’m genuinely heartbroken and the grief is hard I’ve not left my bed a lot since but had to brave outside today for work, I’m so angry that he didn’t get to live a long life, his life was so happy just not long! He was my boy and was a fantastic cat, I’m just trying to struggle with a different routine now and it’s hard

        • Oh, Amy, that’s horrendous. I’m so sorry. They are such precious creatures. I keep telling myself the same thing – he had a *happy* existence and knew he was loved, and I believe cats have little, if any, sense of time passing. We’re the ones who grieve, knowing it was too short a span.

  7. Yes! Thank god I found this post. The description of being out of sync with the world is exactly what I was trying to explain in therapy today. I lost my beloved Lucy 11 days ago and I feel like I’m in a haze. Im mostly living my normal life, but it feels like I fell through the looking glass. It’s so isolating. It was very sudden and extremely traumatic for me. I went to visit her at my parents house and noticed her breathing seemed labored. My mom took her to the vet the next day and called me in tears to tell me her lungs were filling up, would likely fill up again, and that euthanasia was on the table. Less than 48 hours after visiting her and playing with her, I rushed back home to be with her as she died. I still can’t seem to adjust to my new reality. We chose to let her go when the vet told us she was literally drowning. But now I feel a bit like I’m drowning. The way her tiny lungs were teeming with fluid, I feel like I’m overwhelmed with grief. I miss her so much. I thought when the time came, we’d be told she had a few months, or even a few weeks…but that we’d have time. Time to spoil her, and let her have all the things she always wanted. Time to give her the full can of tuna or let her outside for a bit. Time to thank her and tell her how much we loved her. But I didn’t get that. She didn’t get that. I feel like we were cheated. I’m angry and resentful that I had to make this decision under so much pressure, and I never got to give my baby everything she deserved. It’s so much harder and more painful than I ever expected. I wake up every day in tears and it’s just exhausting.

  8. Thank you for making this post. It helps to know other people have felt what I feel right now. My 4-year-old angel Max died yesterday. He wasn’t feeling too great and had difficulty eating and moving that day, so my mom put him the guest bedroom to have a peaceful place to rest. She went to pick up my brother and me from school and when we got back he was gone. I never got to say bye, hell I didn’t even know he was sick. The suddenness of it all makes it feel unreal like I’m “out of synch with the rest of the world”.
    The cycle of grieving is making many revolutions. I denied, and got angry and cried my heart out. Finally, I accepted, but I still find myself angry and crying unexpectedly. I know this won’t be easy as I’ve suddenly lost a cat before, but this time it’s different. My first cat, Simba, went out, as he’s an outdoor cat, and never came back. Seeing and holding Max’s lifeless body in my arms isn’t the same as putting up flyers and waiting by the door every night. I don’t what to do about Max. It’s like there’s a gash in my arm that was hastily stitched up.

  9. My pal Jazz was diagnosed with early stage kidney disease nine months prior to becoming seriously ill. His kidney disease seemed to be holding steady and he was fine with my careful care, observations and check-ups with vets. He became lethargic and wasn’t eating and was examined on a Friday and found to have pancreatitis. Five days later rechecked at Vet and a day later at animal hospital, he was found to have rare, hemorragic pancreatitis: vet internist advised he was in alot of pain. I didn’t have time to hold him, or to bring him home. I had a 20.5 year old dear cat Soleil cuthanized at home and it was gentle. This loss of Jazz, which I had to accept within hours of having arranged to have him cared at the vet hospital is much more difficult. I feel as tho I could have loved Jazz more, held him, even tho rationally I know the vet advise was sincere and knowledgeable about Jazz pain and quality of life much diminished.I am so used to restoring him to health from kidney care.This time, the vets didn’T seem to offer an alternative to choose for Jazz. I appreciate your writing this blog, it helps me to read of others and to accept the grief which seems endless (one month now has passed). Cannot imagine another cat, this loss is just a heartbreaker.

      • I lost my beloved companion sometime early this morning – she was just lying on the rug and was still a little warm. I have spent all day crying – I loved her so much. Her favourite food was tuna ( she asked for ”a-hoo”) and chicken ( she asked for ”hichen”). She would chatter to me all the time, and made a sneezing noise if I sneezed. I do not know what to do. Her death today was the sixth loss in under a year, and although most were much loved family and friends, this is the worst ever.

  10. My precious Athéna a beautiful Ragdoll died Wednesday. 10 days before she was fine and barely 5 y.o. She was breathing heavyly so I took her to the vet. After test and Xrays, they told me she had a fractured diaphragm , chylothorax and fibrosis lungs. Nothing happened to her as she lives indoors and on silk blanket. She had surgery but recovery was too slow, then she caught a cold. Then she refused to eat drink and move. All she wanted to do was to be wrapped in her blanket in my arms. The last afternoon I visited, she was so weak but she rubbed her nose against mine and licked it. It was like saying goodbye. The vet said that they would do another scanner and feed with a pump and others blood tests. They could t put a feeding tube because of her bad cold. I let the clinic to my car but I returned : I just could not leave her there another day being poked and moved around. I wrapped her in her blanket smelling lavender, I told her how much she meant for all of us and she was perfect everyday. I kissed her and she rubbed her nose on my nose, then she died in my arms in a second. The vet said she was ready and the she gave up the fight a couple of days ago. She was my first pet. The pain is unbelievable. I won t have another cat. It is just too painful. Please help me. I feel guilty for having done the surgery, and putting her through all this and being away from home……I feels awful

    • I’m so sorry about Athena, Eva. I know losing a cat is always painful, but when it happens unexpectedly like this, it’s devastating. Be gentle with yourself as you mourn your beautiful girl.

  11. From loss of appetite on Thursday to his not waking up from surgery on Saturday he was gone. Almost 16 years old, my Shannon cat passed from intestinal cancer that leaked into his stomach. We had no clue. We did what we could. We are devastated. Time it will be three weeks. Time is moving so slowly. I’m glad some friend on Facebook posted this link to help me. It has.

      • Thank you so much, Ingrid, for your heartfelt words discussing your loss of your dear Amber. I thank the other contributors too for sharing their grief upon the loss of their beloved cats. I lost my beautiful 18 year old Archie almost one week ago. For his age, he was very healthy until a few days before I had to let him go. My heart is broken! I still can’t believe my Gentle White Knight is gone! One of my other beloved kitties adored Archie and he continues to wander around the house with his tail down listening and looking for him. It’s as though any day now I’ll turn around,
        see Archie curled up on a chair and say “oh there you are! We’ve been looking for you!”. I appreciate the words from Nadine Rosin and yourself, Ingrid, in that l feel totally out of step with the world. How can life go on around me as though nothing happened when my whole body feels like a huge open wound, it hurts so badly! I have lost beloved four legged family members before and it never gets any easier. Only time can even begin to very gradually smooth the acute jagged, sharp edges of pain of loss of a beloved cat. I just can’t believe Archie is gone! Lots of tears. My job is to be with the feelings of grief, to respect and honor them and to allow them to pass through me according to their own timeline.

  12. I am in tears reading this. I had my first kitty loss, my beloved soul mate Stella, on 4 January this year. She had thyroid issues, and outlived expectations by a few years. She was 15 when she passed. I had time to prepare for her death, and it still hit me so hard. Then, on 1 August this year, I lost my beloved Spring. She was at least 16. I adopted her as a senior kitty. I had 12 days from onset to passing with her. She was with the vet for four days with what we thought was a kidney issue that was not recoverable. She came home on a Friday, and I said every minute I had with her from then on was a blessing. The next week, she was back at the vet because she would not eat. That Friday, she had an ultrasound. It was liver cancer, and it had migrated into her lungs. I had to leave work to go say goodbye. I was not expecting it, and it still doesn’t seem real. I still look at her favorite spot and expect to see her there. I am wearing my cremains necklace as I type this. It helps me with the grief. Thank you for this story. Sending you hugs of comfort.

    • I’m so sorry about Stella and Spring, Dee Dee. So much loss so close together, and with Spring, it happened so fast. My heart goes out to you – hugs of comfort back to you.

  13. Hi everyone, It’s so good to hear stories of like minded people who know that losing a cat is extremely difficult. I had to put my little Mindy to sleep yesterday and it was the hardest thing i have had to do in my life. She would have been 16 this year, so i know she was old but before she feel ill she looked like a little kitten, so small so beautiful so well!!! within 2 months she went from unsteady balance then tilting head then balance got worse and overnight couldn’t walk at all. The vet wasn’t able to diagnosis a particular thing, always it could be this or that. We tried to get her so much help, because she deteriorated overnight and we were advised nothing more could be done we got a second opinion but unfortunately the answer was the same. I am devastated, my husband is devastated. How can you have life for 16 years and then boom in such a short space of time. I loved my little cat she was my friend always there when i needed her, such good personality. I have lost 2 pets in the past but losing Mindy and the quickness of it is unbelievably painful and at the end having to make the decision to put her to sleep and lose her was too much. Her sister Marnie is still with us and although Mindy was my little baby i feel comfort that i have her and i will make sure she is very happy. Goodnight my little beautiful xx

  14. Your story is my story Ingrid. I had an 11 1/2 year old cat named Bonnet. And she became ill with kidney failure and pancreatic cancer. I nursed her for three months. I had some time to “pre grieve” but it was still devastating. I wasn’t dealing with the grief all that well so I adopted a kitten named Loki. He was an SPCA rescue cat and he rescued me. But on Sunday March 2nd he started feeling poorly. His abdomen was slightly disentended, he was listless and had no appetite. By Thursday after x-rays, fluid analysis, blood tests and an ultrasound, Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) was confirmed. By then his belly was huge and his back concave and he was obviously suffering. The vet recommended euthanasia that night. So I had a health cat on Saturday and he was gone on Thursday. From onset of symptoms to death – 4 days. He was 6 1/2 months. I had Bonnet much longer yet this is affecting me more. You are right. It is the suddenness, and for me the fact that he was a happy healthy KITTEN. I’m still in shock.

    • I’m so sorry about Bonnet, Donna. Sudden death is always a shock, but in a young kitten like him, it’s even more devastating. My heart goes out to you.

  15. Thank you so much, Ingrid. I’m so glad I found this post today.
    On Monday afternoon, after a short trip out of town with my parents, I came home to find Liadan, one of my four kitties, lying on her side and surrounded by her brothers and sister. I noticed some litter granules in the fur on her hind leg and when I bent down to pet her and remove it, she cried out in pain.
    I yelled at my parents to call the vet because I was bringing in Lia now. My mom and dad drove Lia and me to the emergency clinic. I held Lia in my lap and tried to soothe her and, for the first time in her life, she didn’t cry in the car. I didn’t let myself panic until the kindly vet tech carried her to an exam room.
    The vet was very kind, too, when she explained to me that Lia was suffering from a saddle thrombus and her organs were already shutting down, even though the vet said it probably happened just that day. She was able to give Lia pain medication, but it was too late to save her. My sweet baby girl had triumphed over serious dental problems earlier in her life and survived having crystals in her urinary tract a few years earlier, but she couldn’t live through this and I promised her the day I adopted her as a weeks-old kitten from a farm where she wasn’t wanted that I would never let anyone or anything hurt her ever again. I told Lia I love her and would stay with her until the end as she died in my arms. My Lia was 11.
    My first kitty died of complications from diabetes at age 13; my second died of complications from leukemia at age 7. But Liadan, my fourth kitty, was perfectly fine until Monday, and then she was gone so fast.
    Her older brother seems to understand that Lia is dead, but he’s lashing out at their younger brother and sister, who are still looking everywhere for Lia. My parents are mourning their grandkitty, too. They took the five of us in when I lost my job a month ago.
    It’s a comfort to find this post and know I’m not alone in my shock and grief. It’s just so overwhelming right now.

    • I’m so sorry about Lia, Jackie. A traumatic loss like yours is so difficult. I’m glad you were with Lia when she passed, but that doesn’t lessen the pain you’re feeling now. My heart goes out to you. Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time.

  16. Thank you for putting your thoughts to words…and your words to the web. I am sitting at my computer in tears after my 3 year old cat, Milo, passed away suddenly – and unexpectedly – today. He was a healthy and happy cat up until his passing. He was the more mellow of my dynamic kitty/brother duo – who would spend most of their time bathing and wrestling each other. Milo had apparently developed a urinary tract blockage that, as the vet told me, can be hard to detect and is often, as in Milo’s case, fatal within 24-48 hours. I am heartbroken and the grief is overwhelming – both mentally and physically. I took to the web to find words of solace and understanding. Your words resonated with me and have reassured me that grief, as painful as it can be, is a process that will eventually end in acceptance/remembrance. I appreciate the time and effort you put in this post – it helps to be reminded that this heavy burden of sadness will lift.

    • Oh Leeanne, I’m so sorry about Milo! What a devastating loss, and he was so young. Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time. These early days are the worst. I know it’s hard to believe now, but it does get better with time. My heart goes out to you.

  17. I am about to lose my Jack Russell Terriër, and 15 year long companion, Samson. He collapsed Friday evening. At first they thought it was his heart; it was a different vet than my own, because it was in the evening. Monday I went to my own vet; she said it was his liver & kidneys giving up. He stopped eating since Friday morning. I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this dog, and how much he will be missed!
    For 4 days I’m already grieving, and he’s not even gone yet!
    Thank you for your post; now I know there is never enough love for our pets, and that my grieving so much is normal.

    • I’m so sorry about Samson, Thamar. I know this is such a hard time, and it’s about to get harder for you. Try and treasure every moment you have with Samson while he’s still with you. My heart goes out to you.

  18. THANK YOU, Ingrid. THANK YOU. I cannot find any other words for expressing my thankfulness for this wonderful article. You have the unique gift to put deep feelings into words, and most of all, to HELP other people who have gone through loss and grief or may go through loss and grief. This is a true gift, Ingrid. This is truly a way to honor Amber’s loss and your other losses too. Thank you for your wonderful blog, I feel so much better knowing it exists and I have a place to go when I need loving advice. You have grown such a wonderful community of like-minded sous here! It sure helps to know you (we)’re not alone!
    I had to go through loss and grief again recently, when I couldn’t save three tiny newborn kittens in Rhodes… I felt so terribly helpless… your words are a blessing comfort.

    • Thank you so much for your beautiful words, Anna. It means so much to know that my writing is touching others so deeply.

      I’m sorry about the kittens you tried to save. It’s hard, especially with such little ones. My heart goes out to you.

  19. Ingrid,
    What a wonderful post about your grieving journey. Thank you for it. It resonates so much with me. My beloved Danny died last August after a short time from diagnosis to the end. He was about 18 and we had him for 14 years. Previous to him, I never had a pet and had no idea how pets can deepen and enrich life. Through Danny, I was opened up to feelings I’d never acknowledged before. The gratitude I have for having had the experience far outweighs the sorrow (I still feel) at having to let him go. There are so many of us here, the ones who wrote comments and the ones who simply read your post, who understand and appreciate your ability to put into words our common bond of mourning and remembering. Ah life.

    • I’m so sorry about Danny, Ellen. It sounds like he helped you open your heart – something cats are such masters at. You’re absolutely right, having had that experience outweighs the sadness of having to let go.

  20. Thank-you Ingrid for sharing your grief and pain over losing Amber. My Boggy passed from FIV last June, we did’nt know she was sick until her last 2 weeks.The last morning of her life as we drove to the vets, my husband drove, she sat on my lap. The sky was blue and as sick as she was she spotted two birds flying above us, she would have loved to have jumped up at them.The vet was so kind as Boggy passed, the pain was just terrible, we brought her home.Six months later I had to return to the vets for worm tablets, I started crying as I made my purchase, the sad memories came back of Boggy’s last visit. Iam slowly getting over my grief but I just won’t be able to return to the vet.

    • I’m so sorry about your Boggy, Anne. It’s not unusual that people can’t go back to the vet’s office after they lost a pet there. No matter how kind the staff is, it’s still an awful memory. Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time.

  21. I’m glad you are at peace now Ingrid. What a moving post about grief. It’s really a day at a time to feel comfort. But first you have to go through a brick wall. Sending love to you! xo

  22. That is all so true. Doesn’t matter how long you have had an animal or known an animal, it is still so hard to let them go. I had to do that in the last couple of days and I feel worse than I would if she had been here for a long time. But at least she had a good couple of days here. I totally agree with Layla, about the insensitive people that think you are nuts to be first attached to a cat or what ever and then also think you are nuts because you are grieving for an animal. My neighbors are like that. It is a very long story but I thought I was going to have to have a knock down fight with one of my neighbors on Sat. Take care and hugs to both cats.

  23. You touch on something so true and deep here, Ingrid. Thank you for sharing your hard-won insights. I really appreciate the perspective on how disconnected the rest of the world seems, and that chit chat makes no sense. And “It requires allowing those who understand to support you, and staying away from those who don’t. It requires courage to face the pain, rather than run from it.”

    • Liz, I think the feeling of disconnect is one of the most common emotions someone grieving a loss experiences, I had just never heard it expressed as clearly as I did in Nadine’s book.

  24. This post touched me to the core. Having the support of like-minded souls helps but what will really make a difference is when pet grieving becomes more recognized and accepted. The grieving process is hard enough without having to dodge insensitive co-workers, friends or strangers. Change comes with awareness by books and posts like this and simply opening our hearts one pet and one person at a time.

    • I’m glad this post resonated with you, Layla. Posts like this aren’t easy to write, but I write them for the very reason you mention. Maybe some day, no grieving pet parent will have to hear the words “it was only a cat” anymore.

  25. I faced the loss of my feline soul mate, my old man, in April. He’d been ill but I had absolutely no idea when we went to the vet’s that day that I’d be coming home alone. Even the death of my mother last year didn’t leave me that devastated. It completely broke my world. The quote you posted from Nadine M. Rosin sums it up perfectly. (It makes me think of W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues” poem.) But, as you say, it seems to be the suddenness of the loss that is hardest — I had months to acclimate to the idea of my mother dying; I had none with Mots. I’m still hoping the grief will transmute into personal growth…

  26. I’m so sorry, I know. When I lost Bobo yes he was 18 but it was fairly sudden. It was less than a week. I had him for 18 glorious years. I had it done at my home. I collapsed on top of him after it happened, I had never cried like that in my life. Lost my father whom I adored in 2001 to complications from diabetes, he lived in Florida, I was in Ohio. I didn’t make it in time. He passed while I was on the plane on my way there. Frankly, I’m still not over either loss

    (((((hugs)))) to you

    • Hugs back at you, Caren. I don’t think we ever get over any of our losses. If we’re the fortunate ones, we manage to find ways to live with them and keep the memories of our lost loved ones in our hearts.

      • Thank you for this article, it fully sums up how I’m feeling
        All other resources I have read refer to older cats and grieving before they pass, however with our little Hugo he was only 3 and he didn’t appear different or ill , just passed away in the night in our neighbours garden.
        He was so small at only 3 years old so I feel angry and in despair that he is gone and don’t feel I can tell anyone,
        It’s good to know I’m not alone in how I’m feeling. Thank you

  27. We all experience the grieving process in whatever way “works” best for us but I can identify totally – in every single way – with your loss of Amber and how you felt and dealt with it. You expressed it beautifully. I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life as well and when we take on the joy of having a pet in our lives we know that moment will come way before we want it to since they live their lives so quickly compared to ours….but every single moment just becomes that much more precious and meaningful I think. Anyway, wonderful to read this Ingrid – “I can feel your pain”………..

    Pam Kimmell

    • Pam, I agree that every moment with our pets becomes that much more precious because we know that they’re not going to be with us forever. I’m glad this post resonated with you.

  28. That was a very moving post, Ingrid. I feel your pain, especially as I try to prepare for the loss of my cat, Bob. He is so thin now, but he eats well. I know a cat with FIV and lymphoma, getting chemo isn’t going to cure him. The slow progression is very hard to witness.

    I’ve also lost a cat in 5 days to HCM (undiagnosed). I think about losing my parents, too…I think about how unfair it felt that time would keep ticking on, that I’d see a mother and her daughter shopping together and think that I will never be able to do that again-never feel that bond with someone like that, again. I don’t think we ever get over…we just get on and we make a new life for ourselves with the pieces that are left behind. Some times we get lucky and make new friends that feel like family-as I have come to feel about you, but it’s difficult to not feel cheated somehow that those who you wish were with you, have gone. I’m so sorry for your losses, Ingrid. I hope it helps to know you are not alone.


    • Thank you for your beautiful words, Robin. I know how hard it is for you to watch Bob’s decline. You’re right, we never get over our losses, and it definitely helps to know that we’re not alone. I consider myself very fortunate to have friends like you in my life.

    • sorry to hear your loss, I am going through a loss right now. its like a nightmare and you want to wake up and find your beloved pet is still with us.
      my tabby cat was killed on the road near our home nearly two weeks ago and I find myself crying a lot. He is so missed and my other cat who is just like your Amber misses him, she is looking for him.
      we only had Fred for a year with us and it is sad because he was only 3 years old. I am sure it could of been avoided because our road isn’t busy.
      it hurts when someone tells you to give it a rest and get on with your life. they don’t understand do they?
      thank you for sharing, keep strong. x

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