When your pet dies your tribe changes. You have just lost a part of your family. Your best friend, confidant, and most loyal being ever. They love you and find you lovable when it seems no one else can. Sticking by your side, they don’t change sides. They just know. And when they die, grief may come in sudden waves of emotions – and spill out as your heart aches and re-forms to accommodate the now empty spot your pet once filled.
When Your Pet Dies
Prince Ares; my 20 year old fur baby, passed away today. January 9, 2021. Born October 2000, he joined me for two decades. Longer than any other relationship and my one true long time companion. We both knew death was imminent, a painful shadow that hung over us this week. At times I felt blessed. Working for my business allowed me to maximize my time and attention to fill his needs.
A twenty year old cat equates to a 96 year old human. I forgo vet care to prolong life because illness has a way of sneaking up on a pet and cats especially do not complain. There was gradual weight loss, increased thirst, and pickiness of foods. All attributed to just aging.
As death approached, more research recognized the tell tale signs of kidney failure. Should I euthanize? I couldn’t. And sometimes wish I had. Death is not pretty in your pet. They rarely grace into a peaceful die in your sleep passing. For most of the week I stayed up, gently holding him so I would know he was comfortable and warm. I listened to him breathe and gave him water when he wanted. He had went from eating to eating from my hand to not wanting food at all.
The Choice to Euthanize
Euthanize your pet they say. I am not ready to examine this whole experience and determine if that was a better answer. It is too painful. No choice is going to be an easy one. Ares showed me enough that he was still there. He gently nudged my glasses up and away from my face as he rubbed his head against mine. There would be some sign or unrealistic thought that there was going to be a recovery. Up until the end. And then you still check, just in case.
The tiredness, wishing for it to be over and then the shame of knowing there must be pain. And wanting him to stay.
Things used to be different. Better. Easier. Cleaner. Prettier. Softer. And alive with energy. When you moved to another house, they went too and made it a home. There was nothing at all that could tear this relationship apart. Except death. And that was a guarantee. All great things must end.
Researching on the internet various things that would soothe my sorrow as Ares lay on my chest, I absorbed random facts.
Like what happens if we die first?
Our cats won’t wait to eat us. And our dogs will wait it out a few days. I eyed 9 and Wednesday and wondered if they would wait that long. I pictured them as morbid as it was – fighting over an arm bone. As much as we favor our fur babies, at their core they are still who they are. Survivalists. Hunters. Chasers. Escape artists.
I appreciate them. And I know they still love me.
When Your Pet Dies
Five Stages of Grief
Knowing a little about grief, there are five stages. There is no order in grief. It is not organized. And a person can slip into one stage to the next. Haphazard. There are no rules. A step can be left out. Each person will be unique on how they grieve. I suspect a lot has to do with how the death came about. Was it sudden? Or the background of the relationship. Was there closure? Spiritual beliefs. Will they go to Heaven?
For more information on the five stages of grief:
We will be just fine. My pet has died.
I will always love my Prince Ares. Princess Athena has seemed to transition ok, we will get our new normal soon. She is enjoying the extra attention, even if she wasn’t one for attention in the past. She loves to be groomed and spoiled.
We just go on. Death is life. Our pets die.
Careful thought was required to select a spot for Ares’ final resting place. I have decided to grow wild flowers there. This almost brings a sense of joy, enthusiasm, a transition from life back to earth back to life again. Like Ares was in life, he will forever be part of my landscape. Beautifying. And pure. Loyal and true. We love our pets. Nobody knows us better. He was one cool cat. Now we are just four.