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Grieving The Loss Of A Pet

Dealing with the loss of a pet


The Emotional Toll of Losing a Pet

Our cats. They are family, not just animals. It’s been interesting to see this dynamic shift over the past several decades. Animals went from being outdoors only to being allowed inside for a bit to sleeping in our beds. Now we call them our fur babies, not our pets. Therefore, it should be expected that dealing with the loss of a pet can be a very excruciating time.

Last week my friend Pam had to say goodbye to her precious kitty, Chaz.  I met him back in the spring for an emergency “medical intervention.”  I have followed his struggle in the recent weeks as he struggled with pancreatitis, possible lymphoma, liver and spleen imbalances, and the loss of appetite.  There would be good days and then there were bad days.  When it became apparent that his suffering was too great and that dreaded decision had to be made I sobbed as if he were my own cat.  Pam described him this way: 

It's never easy saying goodbye to our cats.

Pam and Chaz

 He loved meeting new people, loved riding in the car sitting in the front seat, and going new places.  He came when I called him, he minded me (most of the time)   And he Loved to be held and would wrap his paws around my arm  if I tried to put him down…. Just an incredible gift…

She called me his second mom, and I truly connected with him.  I remember how he ran to the door to greet me and let me hold him in my arms like a baby.  He was a beautiful, sweet, docile kitty whose memory I will always cherish. 

Our Grief Runs Deep

The wave of emotions I felt for Chaz’s loss cannot even come close to what his mom is going through.  Losing our precious kitties is perhaps in some ways harder to deal with than losing a human friend or family member.  We grieve and try to make sense of the loss and the emptiness left behind.  Going through our normal routines that included our fur baby is now forever changed, and it can be very difficult to adjust.  But we must go on, even though our hearts don’t want to.  The unconditional love of our cat is a gift that not even friends or family members can always extend, and perhaps that’s part of the reason their absence is felt so much deeper. 

Pam shared an excellent article with me that talked about how we deal with grieving a pet’s loss.  In it, Sandra Barker, the director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University, expressed that in cases where a pet owner didn’t have time to prepare for a loss, as in an accident or sudden death–especially if the pet parent witnessed it–the grief and trauma can be even greater and more intense.  I can certainly attest to that myself as I think back on how Snowbear died unexpectedly in front of me.   (His death was a result of vaccine damage, and you can read his story here.)  I couldn’t walk into the bathroom without “seeing him” on the floor and reliving that horror for months.  Just thinking of him would bring tears to my eyes, and it took a very long time to even be able to talk about him without getting emotional.  The anniversary of his death is November 13, just a few weeks away now.  It will be a tough, bittersweet day.

The loss of a pet

Easing The Grieving Process

People deal with loss differently, and there’s no right or wrong way–they just have to go through it.  There are no shortcuts.  The one thing I did that helped me the most was learning animal communication.  I took two courses with The Lightfoot Way, and it forever changed my grief over Snowbear’s sudden death.  I learned that it’s very easy to speak with our cats in spirit, and I was able to talk with him anytime I wanted.  I was able to release my guilt I felt over vaccinating him and not being able to save him.  It was reassuring to me when he told me that it wasn’t my fault, and it had been his time to leave.  I cannot even begin to describe how comforting this was for me, and I felt a huge relief like a burden lifted.  He had a new “purpose”–to inspire and guide me to start Purrrfectly Holistic.  He continues to guide me even today. 

Flower essences can also help people and even pets who are grieving.  There are several to consider:  honeysuckle, water violet, gorse, gentian, olive, hornbeam, star of Bethlehem, and elm.  Read the indications and then muscle test to verify which essence is the best fit.  You can find these remedies in The Boutique for Cats.  These essences work on both emotional and physical levels to bring recovery and healing.  They can be used orally or rubbed on the skin or fur. 

A Sweet Surprise

I did a meditation this week with Snowbear that left a big smile on my face and heart.  It’s one I learned during my animal communication training.  At the end of my visit with him we are sitting in a grassy, green meadow surrounded by mountains, a little stream, a small campfire, and the sounds of nature all around us.  It’s late in the day, and the sun is beginning to set.  Snowbear is sitting in my lap and suddenly I notice lots of cats and kittens all around, lounging, playing, and enjoying the day.  Snow told me that they were all the kitties I have helped so far.  And then the biggest surprise came when I looked down and saw Chaz walking over to us; he plopped down right next to me and took in the scene.  Immediately I understood that he was there to let me know–and to tell Pam–that he was alright now, happy and healthy once again. 

Rest in peace sweet Chazzy!

It’s true that our love runs deep for our cats, and our bond is unbreakable.  They crawl their way into our hearts leaving paw prints there.  And when it’s time to leave they take a piece of our hearts with them, perhaps so they can hold on to a piece of us. 😻

What methods have you used to deal with a loss?  Leave a comment below!  Go here to sign up for our posts and please share on all your favorite social media channels.











2 responses to “Grieving The Loss Of A Pet”

  1. Pam Redmon says:

    Thank you for the tribute to Chaz! And, well, my story of grief.. its been painful for sure.. its only been a little over a week.. gosh I loved him SO much. He took a big chunk of my heart to be sure! Thank you Pam for all your love and support throughout this whole
    ordeal! You were instrumental in guiding me as to what to do so mamy times when I was at a loss. I just cant thank you enough as you were always there for me and Chaz… ❤️😻 with plenty of great advice!

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