Animal companion dead – what now?

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Animal companion dead – what now?

Post by Nerdator on Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:48 pm

This might be a bit unusual for this forum, so instead of 'Other relationships' I'm putting this here.



So, my cat died a little more that a day ago. He died after a sudden onset of illness –practically wasted away over the weekend– in my arms.

He passed just a couple of months before his 11th birthday, and he's been my companion for all my adult life. I'm using the word 'companion' deliberately, because 'pet' doesn't cut it: this animal has been my little ginger joker in the vast and mean casino of private loneliness and lack of affection. While, over the years, there have been cases of food stolen, jars of cereals upturned, upholstery destroyed (I'm dropping the idea of repairing it now), linoleum dug through, as well as cases of shouting and slaps on the bottom (which I quickly regretted back then, and regret even more now), he was a friendly and playful, and fun animal, and, for me, he was someone to hug and stroke, to express affection and care for, to just look and see him there, with me.

Now, he's gone, and I'm smashed –I haven't slept for more than 36 hours now (I close my eyes and start crying)– and I don't think I grieved for either of my parents as much as I do now. There is the pity and sympathy for this lovely little animal who was a tiny speck in the universe, who got way less time to be one than it should have, who brought and had less joy than it should have, and whose passing was not as easy as it could have been; there is the vacuum he left behind: my flat feels huge and hollow, without his paws tapping on the floor, his loud munching on the food, his sniffing around (or biting my landlord's ankles!); there is the uncertainty as to what I am going to substitute this little unspoken arrangement with my cat with: my needs will persist, and, while I propel myself mentally towards the idea of arranging this with people, I am a bit wary of this possibility, seeing it as something that only looks promising, but really isn't.

This isn't something that is usually discussed here –as far as I have seen– I don't expect much advice, but I felt I might express this here.
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Re: Animal companion dead – what now?

Post by Enail on Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:14 pm

Nerdator, I'm so sorry about your cat. He looks like a real sweetheart. I don't have much advice - I don't really think advice is of much use when you're grieving the loss of someone you loved - but much sympathy to you. I don't think I've ever felt like the universe was so empty as when my cat died, so I understand some of what you're feeling.

I doubt anyone, person or animal, will be able to replace him or totally fill the hole of his absence, but it does sound like a good idea to try and fill some of that need for affection with other connections. People are good, though of course they offer their companionship at a different pace, in different ways, from a cat, and especially from a cat that you had years of affection and familiarity with, so you might find it hard going at times. I do think it can be very worth it, though.  

Look after yourself while you grieve.
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Re: Animal companion dead – what now?

Post by Werel on Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:24 am

I'm so sorry, Nerdator. It's strange how hard the death of an animal friend can hit even harder than some human losses. They're just so... present, and then suddenly they're not.

I hope you manage to get some sleep soon, and wishing you some comfort as you mourn.
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Re: Animal companion dead – what now?

Post by PintsizeBro on Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:20 am

I'm so sorry for the loss of your little friend. Please be kind to yourself.

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Re: Animal companion dead – what now?

Post by Nerdator on Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:37 pm

Thank you, guys. He was a real sweetheart, and this is one of the reasons I'm fighting the thought of getting a new cat – I can't believe I could find one as friendly, social and well-tempered.

And, yes, his sudden passing really leaves this glaring hole, with nothing or no one to fill it with (my work helps a little, but nowhere near enough).

In fact, guilt also undercuts my trying to comfort myself now, and make it more tolerable. Because, in hindsight, there have been some changes in his behaviour in the last couple months, and I failed to recognise them as something serious, as symptoms, and maybe at some level even refused to – because of my pattern at avoiding new social situations (and registering and going to a vet would be one). I also have been very busy working this year, but it's been enough for me to turn away from the computer and call him to get some comfort, or to make a pause, after he comes up and paws at my arm to get my attention. Now, my calls are left unanswered, and it's my fault, too.

The existential crisis from seeing a friend grow weaker and weaker, and then cast his last, spasmodic breaths, and from being reminded this way that I am no different from my cat, doesn't make this easier, either.
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Re: Animal companion dead – what now?

Post by eselle28 on Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:16 pm

I'm so sorry. You've given him a lovely eulogy, and it sounds like it was a wonderful relationship. Nothing will truly replace it. Relationships with people aren't quite like relationships with animals, and every relationship with an animal is unique because they're individuals. It's probably a good idea to seek affection, though yes, it will be different. Otherwise, all I can suggest is to be good to yourself. Whatever comforts you, distracts you, engages you most will provide at least a little time away from grief. Putting aside some time to let yourself be as sad and angry as you want to be can be helpful too.
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Re: Animal companion dead – what now?

Post by Nerdator on Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:09 pm

eselle28 wrote:I'm so sorry. You've given him a lovely eulogy, and it sounds like it was a wonderful relationship. Nothing will truly replace it. Relationships with people aren't quite like relationships with animals, and every relationship with an animal is unique because they're individuals. It's probably a good idea to seek affection, though yes, it will be different.

With people, there's so much additional stuff that's going on, and I'm concerned about its getting in the way – although I'm quite sure now that I'll have to mend my current problem by turning to people. The hard part is that the few close relationships I've had in my life (including this one) simply happened to me, or were the result of someone else's will – and I lack the knowledge and tools to start them myself. And it sucks to realise this, because this means that my current problem won't be solved soon, and it's unlikely to solve itself.

eselle28 wrote: Otherwise, all I can suggest is to be good to yourself. Whatever comforts you, distracts you, engages you most will provide at least a little time away from grief. Putting aside some time to let yourself be as sad and angry as you want to be can be helpful too.

Yes, the fact that I have lots of work at this moment is a small blessing, because it is engaging and it does distract me – while I work that is. Outside it, I'm having a hard time doing anything, and I don't feel like doing the usually enjoyable things at all (though I'm trying to reintroduce my daily routines, most of which I dropped in the last 3 days). I kind of fear the next weekend, as we'll have a couple of bank holidays here, and there'll be 4.5 days off work. How ironic that I actually planned to use this time to repair the scratched-up upholstery on the couch and finally buy a scratch post for the cat.
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