To everyone that has lost a beloved pet, I am sorry. To everyone experiencing this grief during the holiday season and/or another special occasion, I am sorry. It is tremendous to get through such thoughts and emotions and move forward.
Never did I appreciate this before losing Sir Greysby to pancreatitis on November 25th, 2014 after a 30-day fight wherein he tried to live and my husband and I tried to help him win the battle. Never have I gone through such - let alone his passing 2 days before hosting Thanksgiving at my house, which I did do in an almost an out-of-body manner and excusing myself to go cry silent away from the guests.
3 weeks and 2 days later, I am healing, but have moments wherein I feel sucker-punched in my gut once more and I let-out primordial cries of anguish. Why? What could I have done differently? Why didn't I recognize the 2 earliest behavioral changes in him as signs he was becoming ill? Would those 4-5 weeks have made a difference in his ability to recover before I took him to the Vet?
What have I done to work through and move past such grief? I downloaded 4 e-books to read on pets going to heaven and the grieving process. I learned that my grief and guilt are very "normal," although I have felt anything but normal. I created a beautiful photo journal book of him - from the days he was a stray and we took him in and up through the day of his departure from this life. I kept a swatch of his hair and his foot-print and his collar with the heart-shaped tags. His remains were cremated and placed in a nice oak urn that displays a picture of him making "soft eyes" at me on his last day here.
I have gone to a Christian psychologist twice to help me process the void. The void is not as huge now, but the first week after he left, my stomach hurt, I cried a lot, and I did not know what to do with the spare time that Sir Greysby use to fill-up when he was well, but especially during the last week of his life. I had gone into a panic mode in trying to get him to eat all forms of chicken and/or treats ... anything! I woke-up in the middle of many nights wondering if he had passed away and got up to check on him. When he lapped his ice-cold water, I was so thankful and hopeful. But then, the battle ended. My momentum was still going forward and wanting to help him, but he was no longer here.
I've played back the video, from the last morning of his being with me, several times. He loved my ankles and feet, then sat in front of his food without touching it once again ... after 3-days of his not doing so. He had come full circle. This is what had caused me to take him to the Vet to begin with ... he did not eat his favorite warmed, soft cat food for 3-days. The Vet placed him on steroids and an antibiotic, and for several weeks, it seemed he might have a fighting chance. Sir Greysby never resumed eating his food at the level he had done before falling ill, but at least he nibbled. The fact was that he was anorexic and continued to lose weight during those last 30-days of his life.
3-days before his departure, my husband and I decorated the living-room for the holiday season. Our minds told us that he would not make it, but our hearts hoped he would. We played Christmas carols for him, took a photo of him, and struggled with thinking it might be his last holiday season with us. Barely have I been able to hear any Christmas music since then. However, I do not regret giving Sir Greysby one-last Christmas with us, and I know that with time, I will smile and feel good about those memories.
My other cats and their adjusting to his not being here has been awkward. The routines changed for them, too. Sir Greysby ruled our home during his 2-1/2 year stay with us. :-) However, I am adapting to their new routines and am spending more time loving and appreciating them. They have had numerous pictures taken of them in their favorite areas of the house, at play and at rest. Now, I fully comprehend they are my family that love me unconditionally.
There are "those" people who are thoughtless for whatever reasons. I have chosen not to be rude to them in return, but rather to ignore them and move through my grieving process as I see fit. I know that one-day I will feel better.
It is a process and a journey. I will always thank my God of understanding for allowing this beautiful soul to grace our home with the last 2-1/2 years of his life. We learned so much from him and I know that Sir Greysby is in a much better, heavenly place that affords him happiness and peace.
May your soul find peace and comfort during this time and know that this lady is praying for your wellness and healing, too.