It's been almost three weeks now since Buddy crossed over the bridge. Among the many seasons of life I'm in, grieving is one of them. I want to share a little about my grieving process this time around.
Coming home without Buddy was really hard. The energy in the house felt off, it's crazy how much quieter it was. The absence of his presence was deafening. As the days went on, the grief-pain began to increase. All the little things I've come to expect are no more. Buddy was the most vocal of our cats, he talked all the time. First thing in the morning, he greeted me with a loud MEOW! Every time I came home, MEOW! Whenever I sat down, he would immediately sprawl out on me. He wrestled me for every bite of mac n' cheese. Everything is different without him.
Eating the same mac and cheese without Buddy stirs pain of his absence. That pain feels like a gift, like a testament to the joy of his being. I am learning to welcome the grief-pain, to lean into it with gratitude.
The grief-pain is real and at times pretty intense. But this time my experience of the grief is so much different than any of my previous experiences. For the first time in my life, the grief-pain is not completely overwhelming me. In the past, reading about cat-blogosphere friends crossing the bridge would overwhelm me. When Max died in 2009, it was incredibly traumatic and I couldn't work for weeks. Suicidal thoughts even came in, it was really scary. Since then I lived in constant fear of having to go through that all again.
|The day after Buddy crossed the bridge, I stopped by the house for lunch, and |
Nahum hopped on my lap for some fluffy purr therapy - just what my ouchy heart needed!
Over this past year, I've done a ton of intense therapy work. (A little history: I experienced pretty significant pet-loss trauma as a child, which basically kept me in a perpetual state of hypervigilance as I anticipated the next death - my fear was rampant and overwhelming, can you say PTSD?!) A bunch of my therapy work involved working through that trauma.
I'm now getting to enjoy the fruit of having done all this trauma work, for the first time in my life, I can actually experience the sadness and grief pain without crazy anxiety and fear overwhelming me. Which means, I can stay in the moment and feel just the grief of Buddy's death without the past and future rushing in. This season of grief feels clean and for that I'm super grateful. This doesn't mean the grieving is easy or pleasant by any means, I still feel the hole in my heart and the sobbing still overtakes me at times.
When I picked up Buddy's ashes at the vet last week, I felt like the reality of him being gone really sank in. As I carried his ashes back, tears streamed down my face. When I got home, I sat with his box of ashes in my arms and I sobbed. The beautiful cat I knew as Buddy would not be coming home again.
In this season of grief there is much I'm grateful for.
- Your kind messages, comments and cards are beautiful and have been like soothing balm for my ouchy heart. It really helps to know I'm not alone. The weight of grief is heavy and intense, sharing it in community makes it more bearable. I'm deeply grateful for all of you and your outpouring of love.
- My amazing, kind veterinarians and their staff that somehow are always available. I love that they bring their humanity as well as their medical skills and knowledge to their work. What a gift.
- Onsite and all the amazing healing that I've experienced through their intensive therapy programs.
- Buddy - his love was the real deal, just as mine is. The grief wouldn't be here if there wasn't such delightful love. The delight of our relationship was so worth the grief-pain I feel now.
- The love and joy of Willow, Nahum, Theo, Rose, Marvin, Oliver, and Pierre!
- God's love never seems to stop, even in the deep pain. Crazy.
The other cats are stepping up to fill in the now vacant roles Buddy filled.
Theo and Nahum have volunteered to have a go on the mac and cheese bowl.
Nahum's started a rigorous cuddle-training program.
He's also taken to sharing my meals with me.
Every morning, Theo has been my new morning cuddle and prayer-buddy.
Willow's offering extra cuddles.
And Oliver is even stepping up and generously offering extra tummy rubs.
My grief is held in a beautiful container made of gratitude and love. My heart is grateful.