The Companionship of Grief

So I am dealing once again with another loss. Grief truly is a more constant companion as I age. I have lost friends, lovers, family, and pets.

I retired at the end of May and two weeks later lost one of my two 17 year old kitties. This hit me and my remaining kitty very hard. I tried my best to comfort my remaining kitty (as well as myself). There is something quite unique about the loss of an animal companion (I intend to write more about this at some point). And this week I found out that my kitty who is still with me now has liver cancer and the prognosis is not good. I feel such a deep ache inside that cannot ever be adequately described with words. With my kitty that I lost in June, I feel that I allowed the vet to talk me into putting him down too quickly. It was the perfect storm – a weekend night (so I was at the emergency vet and not my regular vet) . I could not go into the clinic due to COVID. The clinic was swamped, so I waited outside in my car all night long, to be told that my kitty was very sick and it was time to let him go. I believe that he was sick, but I also think that I could have brought him home and done it differently. I regret that. I now have my other kitty who I can see slowly declining. The vet and I talked about my just continuing to watch him to assess if he gets uncomfortable and then to talk about when it is time to let him go. That’s something else I will write more about – how do we make such a decision…? When do we allow a natural death? When do we hasten death?

So I have the gift of spending a bit more precious time with my sweet fur companion. Pets have taught me a deeper kind of love than I had known (I have no children). They have come into my heart in a way that no one else can. I am in grief, and in gratitude for the time we have spent together. I dread losing him before the holidays, but tell him to just let me know when it is time. I don’t want him to suffer. I will miss him so deeply.

This is one of the challenges that we take on when we bring a pet into our home and our lives. One that I do not regret, although this is such a painful process to go through. I live alone so the loss will feel so very intense as my house will feel empty. Will I get another kitty? I don’t know yet – I need to grieve this loss first, and then decide if I want to sign up for this process once again. I am thinking that I may…..I love living with pets and coming home to them waiting for me. I love sleeping with their warm furry bodies next to me. This ache is becoming so familiar…the ache of loss, the ache of death.

Indeed, I am working on getting my own affairs in order….working on my Advance Directive and what my wishes are for when my time comes. It’s so strange to be making plans about my own death. And yet I know it is important, so that my wishes are hopefully followed.

Each loss, each goodbye, each ending – all make me realize more and more how precious each moment is. How I need to fully live while I still can. And appreciate it all. I think that the grief carves out room in our hearts to really open. It hurts to open that deeply. And yet…I believe that it hurts more to stay closed and shut down. So, here I am … grief, and feeling the ache of love. And grateful for the experience and for being able to feel all the feelings. It is part of this ride of life that we are on.

2 thoughts on “The Companionship of Grief

  1. Hi Josaia, I am very sorry to hear about the kitty that died and how your other kitty is not well. Around our home we call them fur babies and they are a member of the family. Very difficult and complicated decisions when letting pets “go.” You describe well feelings that resonate with all of us. Reinforces how precious life is.


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