Saturday, September 10, 2016

the gift of grief

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.


  1. These extraordinary words will be helpful for many of us when the time will come. Thank you.

  2. This post made me cry. You are very strong and remembering Buddy's love is carrying you through the grief. How fortunate we are to have shared our life with such wonderful cats. Each and everyone that has been with us and now gone was a blessing. I'm so glad the others are now stepping up to the plate and filling in for Buddy. I'm sure they miss him, too. May his memories continue to heal your heart. hugs, Deb

  3. Your words are very touching and I could not help but feel the tears roll down my cheeks at what you wrote. I am glad, if I can be that, that the Grief is not overloading you, that you can feel it and also feel the reason for it, the deep love you shared with someone you have a very strong connection with. There is an immense beauty in what you are feeling and I hope that as time progresses more of that strong connection of love you have for Buddy will help heal your heart of the absence of his presence.

  4. The love of our cats and the grief at their loss. I'm still experiencing it even all these months later. I am so glad that Mr. Toes has come to stay with me for awhile now, he has helped ease the grief. When he moves on with his owner I'll be ready to bring another cat into my life. I'm so glad you are healing and the tears are a part of that. Hugs!

  5. Somehow, you have made your grief Sacred. It feels like you're on a Sacred Journey to me, reading this. I don't have words, really. I wish you *good* grieving, and peace in your heart as you continue your Path.

    Universal Light and purrs.

  6. It is really wonderful that the others are stepping up to show you that there is so much real love in your home. Hugs from all of us.

  7. Must take courage to share your burdens, To let another know...
    Please do know you are not alone.

    " if love could have saved you,
    You would have lived forever "

    Mom really love this saying. It touch her deeply. To you and your beloved Buddy

  8. I loved reading this today. And on a Sunday besides. Gratitude and acknowledgement for the continuing love you experience.
    Your little ones are each tiny treasures of love and comfort.

  9. Losing a beloved kitty is so hard, I think your other kitties truly know you are grieving and are trying to help you. I think they are grieving for sweet Buddy too.

  10. Wow, what a post! And now the other cats are playing Buddy too!

  11. It's always amazed me how other cats in a multicat household step up to comfort you when they lose one of their own. They seem to know intuitively what you need. At least that's been my experience and it's helped ease the pain.

    Loss is the tough part of sharing your life with a pet but the love and joy they bring you makes it all worth it. Part of Buddy will always be with you.

  12. Thank you for this beautiful post. I had to say good-bye to my fifteen year old FIV rescue cat "Maggie" on August 28th, so I certainly feel the rawness of your pain. Your post helped me tremendously. Prayers and another big Thank You.

  13. grief is so different yet familiar for all of us. after losing Tim, the hardest part was bringing in the empty carrier. I actually put it in the hatchback at the vet's office and couldn't bring it in the house for over a week. glad the other furry inhabitants are there to lend you extra support :)

  14. Your post brought tears to my eyes as well. I had to wait a bit before I could comment. :)

    I am so... what would be a good word? happy? glad? proud? something in that family anyway... that you are in a place where Buddy's death is survivable. I am glad the other kitties have stepped up and helped out. I had to laugh at the mac and cheese because I HAD to give some of that to one of my cats the other day.

    My heart goes out to you as you traverse this difficult time.. Buddy was a blessing for you, and soon, I hope, the memories only bring happy memories.

  15. What a beautiful post, a real tribute to your Buddy. It made me think of the quote from the movie Shadowlands: "Why love, if losing hurts so much? .... The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal."

  16. It does seem as if when one dies, another steps up to pick up the missing pieces as best one can. Animals are so intuitive.


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