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Having Trouble Moving Forward

Cat Dude

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I lost my 15 y/o cat Gertie in late June of 2020. I thought that by now I'd have a handle on my grief, but I don't. I think I'm hanging on to it because it's all I've got left of her. If I let go of the grief, then she'll really be gone. Of course, I know she's really gone now, so why am I hanging on to my grief? I also think guilt and doubt are playing a role. I wasn't sure it was time to "say goodbye" yet. My wife felt it was. Our vet said "that time is coming, but not quite yet". Unfortunately, Gertie had multiple issue with her health. Some of these were treatable, others not. We began by trying to treat her hyperthyroidism, which we knew was also masking the severity of a kidney condition because hyperthyroidism increases ones heart rate and metabolism. Those two things push toxins that build up in the blood out; those being the toxins that build up when the kidneys are bad. To know the severity of the kidney problem, the thyroid must be treated first, then more tests to assess the kidneys. Dialing in the dosage of meds for the thyroid would take about a month. Then we could assess the kidneys. Meanwhile, Gertie had a mass growing in her chest that was approaching her trachea and her esophagus. It had doubled in size in the last 12 months or so. Due to her age, the vet didn't want to do a biopsy to assess malignancy, saying she'd have to be put under, which would be dangerous at her age. All we could do was look for signs of decline. The vet said either way the mass would what masses do.....grow. Knowing the mass had doubled in size in a year gave us some idea of the rate of growth. There just wasn't much room in there for it to keep growing. Making the situation worse was the fact that after the first two dosages of thyroid medicine, Gertie became quite ill after each dose. She actually vomited blood after the second dose. I don't know if this was a cause and effect from the med, or if it was something else causing the vomiting and diarrhea. I determined that whether Gertie was dying right then or not, she was entering a difficult period of medications multiple times a day, regular tests at the vets office to monitor her conditions, and ultimately, difficulty breathing and/or swallowing due to the mass touching her trachea and esophagus, which would lead to having to put her to sleep anyway. 

Now I spend a lot of time going over this entire scenario again and again in my mind. I'm missing her and wondering if I did the right thing. I'm wondering if she still loves me because of my decision. When I'm busy with work or some other diversion it's not as bad. As soon as my mind is free to wonder, however, it goes straight back to Gertie. This makes my quiet time very sad, especially when lying in bed at night trying to fall asleep. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!


Edited by Cat Dude
I forgot to add the fact that the meds to seemed to have a negative effect.
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I'm so very sorry for your loss, my friend ~ but as I read your story, I cannot help but believe you did everything humanly possible to improve your Gertie's chances, but the cancer won and in the end, you did what was best for her. Sometimes, in the face of impossible odds, we think we're doing everything we can to prolong our animal's life, when in reality we're prolonging their suffering and dying.

The guilt and questioning and wondering are all part of the process that most of us go through in the aftermath of having made this awesome, life-or-death decision for our beloved companions. It's only natural to question whether we did "the right thing" ~ and I hope you'll come to believe that you did what you truly thought was best for your fur baby.

You've asked for advice, and so I invite you to read the following, in hopes that the information brings you some measure of peace and understanding:

Pet Loss: Guilt In The Wake of The Euthanasia Decision

Pet Loss: Is It A Different Kind of Grief?

As you read each of these articles, please note that I've listed links to additional resources at the base of each.

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14 hours ago, Cat Dude said:

wondering if I did the right thing. I'm wondering if she still loves me because of my decision.

I am so sorry for your loss!  My 25 year old Kitty's kidneys and liver shut down, first sign was at Christmas...she lost half her weight and was down to 4 1/2 lbs.  She was suffering greatly, very cantankerous and unhappy, I had her put to sleep Jan. 6.  They can treat the thyroid issues, but not the kidney/liver shutdowns.  You are so right, your cat was in a steady past the brink decline.  One more day would mean one more day of suffering.  You did the responsible caring thing, preferring her comfort over your own loss, that's what we do when we love them.   In addition to the great article Marty shared, here are some others:

Loves you?...she THANKS you!

It is not our grief that binds us to them, it is our love, and that continues still.

It is common, normal even, to question ourselves following their death.  That doesn't mean you did anything wrong, it means we're searching for some different possible outcome.  It is hard to accept and process their death, very hard, it's a process.  Be patient and understanding of yourself as you make your way through this.  If I were a cat, I would want you for my owner. :wub:


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