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The dryer finally took my best cat friend


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A little over 24 hours ago, we sat down for a late dinner. We were also doing laundry and one of us had put some wet clothes into the empty dryer and turned it on before sitting down. After finishing dinner I started hearing a clunking sound from the dryer, like there was a shoe or something in it. I immediately freaked out and wondered where our boy was. Unfortunately, when I opened the dryer I discovered his hot, lifeless body amongst the clothes. Our cat was 9 years old, a rescue I'd had since he was just a few months old. Mean and fractious, he sent me to urgent care many times and was so dangerous I ended up adopting him myself. But in the last 5 years he'd transformed into a great cat who embodied hell and heaven in one body. Mischievous and full of fun, he loved being hoisted in the air upside down and using me as a scratching post. 

He was obsessed with hanging out in the dryer, the microwave, the dishwasher, cupboards. We knew this. I have many pictures of him sitting in appliances from when he was a kitten up until now. People who knew his street urchin-to-suburbanite story followed him on social media, cat lovers who enjoyed his pranks and everyday events for years. What do I say to these people while I'm reeling with disbelief and trauma myself?

We're horrified at what happened. Trying to process but with so much guilt and sadness. I feel numb, sick, with a hard lump in my chest. I'm afraid to close my eyes and wonder why didn't I do this or that so this tragedy could never have occurred. I feel like we're the worst pet parents in the world and am sickened to think of what he went through. In half an hour we literally lost the center of our family. Every room in our house carries evidence of his being. I still can't believe he's gone, even after holding him and stroking his ears for the last time at the crematorium.

How do we get past this? We've had so many pets and fosters over the years and nothing like this has ever happened. This was by far the most f****d up thing that's ever happened in my life. Our unique, special boy was such a monumental part of our lives. Right now this burden of guilt, this heavy thing in my chest, feels like it will be with me forever.

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I am so sorry you learned the hard way, it happens more than you think.  It's such a shock when we go through sudden loss, even if we know ahead of time, it's hard to process.  I too had an animal lost in an accident, over 22 years ago, it was horrible.  While we never forget it, all we can do is try to forgive ourselves and realize we do not HAVE hindsight ahead of time and we're human.   In time I pray you'll extend some grace to yourself.

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2016/10/pet-loss-curious-cats-get-killed-in.html

http://media.wix.com/ugd/0dd4a5_e934e7f92d104d31bcb334d6c6d63974.pdf
https://www.pet-loss.net/guilt.shtml
http://www.griefhealing.com/article-loss-and-the-burden-of-guilt.htm
https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2019/08/pet-loss-when-guilt-overshadows-grief.html
https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2017/07/pet-loss-when-guilt-goes-unresolved.html

 

 

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Thank you. Tears are falling as I write my grief letter. It's going to take a long time to feel normal. Maybe once his ashes arrive and we have a little ceremony there will be some closure. Maybe.


A LETTER TO MY CAT

I AM SO SORRY. 

At this moment I am wracked with guilt and despair over your death. Obliterated. Can’t eat, can’t sleep. The guilt is crushing my chest. I’m screaming with grief inside. I feel like a part of me has died.

We knew how you liked to hang out in the dryer and the other appliances. We knew it. And in a matter of minutes, years of everything we’ve been through and built on was destroyed. I hurt so much, knowing this horrible tragedy wouldn’t have happened if I’d been paying attention to you rather than just trying to get dinner on the table. 

I want to forgive myself for my carelessness but it will be hard. Yesterday, I confessed that I’d failed you, as I held you and stroked your head and little ears for the last time. I can barely hold it together thinking of the terror and suffering you endured before you died. I'm so angry that it's a struggle not to punish myself. If there was anything I could do to turn back time or bring you back, I would gladly do it. 

I can’t believe you’re really gone. I keep thinking I see a figure jump down from the subwoofer, or expect to see you snuggled into the cushion or the cat bed or the window perch. Do you remember when I had to go on a business trip and when I got back, you ran around so crazy with happiness that I had to adopt you? That memory is one of my most cherished. 

Will you forgive me? I think you would. I always knew in your heart that you were a good cat. You turned out to be the best cat anyone could’ve ever been blessed with. I want to thank you for teaching me so much about cats and how not to give up because of bad behavior. I use what you taught me every day.

Someday I may forgive myself. But there's a huge hole in my heart that cannot heal. 

I miss you so much my heart aches.
It's all my fault, and I'll be sorry for the rest of my life.
I loved you more than anything in this world.

I can't wait to see you again at the Rainbow Bridge.

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The timeline is unique for all of us, the guilt feelings gradually diminish as we extend grace to ourselves, but it's been 1 1/2 years since my Arlie died (and it still hurts and the yearning is tremendous for him).  

I love that you use what he taught you every day, that is the best thing we can do in their honor.

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I woke up feeling sad and teary today. Reading another person's year-long thread, with many letters, poems and song lyrics to her dog, made the hurt fresh again. Tomorrow I pick up my cat's remains. A part of me doesn't want to because it's another step into this painful reality I'm living through. I've been doing the best I can to stay really busy and distracted and am not really sleeping or eating. I feel dead.

A friend of ours said I need to cry and scream, to go deep into the grief in order to get past it. I don't know about that. I think if I go deeper I'll probably hurt myself; no punishment will be harsh enough to assuage my guilt or redeem me. That is the truth I'm trying so desperately to avoid.

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On 2/9/2021 at 5:57 PM, Melonfarmer said:

I think if I go deeper I'll probably hurt myself; no punishment will be harsh enough to assuage my guilt or redeem me. That is the truth I'm trying so desperately to avoid.

I strongly believe that the more you know about the grief process in general and the pain of losing a cherished animal companion in particular, the better prepared you are to understand and manage your own reactions.

I invite you to do some reading on this important topic, and you might begin with some articles I've listed below. Note that each of these includes links to related resources:

Common Myths, Misconceptions about Pet Loss

Pet Loss: Why Does It Hurt So Much?

Pet Loss: Is It a Different Kind of Grief?

Pet Loss: A Disenfranchised Grief

Finding Support for Pet Loss

Edited by MartyT
Broken links fixed
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Also http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2014/08/grief-understanding-process.html
Your friend has a point in that we can't simply avoid our grief and need to go straight through it or it'll be haunting us unresolved...but neither do we need to over saturate ourselves, we can mete it out too...time to allow ourselves to feel the pain of grief, other time to distract ourselves and take a break...if you can.

Keep in mind that early grief is not indicative of how the entire grief journey will be like, as we process our grief we begin to adjust, also important to work through forgiving ourselves and give ourselves credit for what we did right.  You are dealing with not just missing him but the way he died.  I wish there were an easier road...:wub:

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MartyT, thank you for replying. I'd like to read the articles but but when I click the links they go to my personal blogger account. I tried signing out of blogger and clicking the links but Google insists I log back in and I can't get any further.  

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No, nothing makes us "feel better."  I'm sorry, it wasn't meant to be offensive, but sometimes it can help to know we're human and this is more common than you'd think.  We can continue to beat ourselves up or we can choose to learn from it going forward so that what they went through was not for nothing.  Always, always, we continue to love and miss them.  I haven't lost a cat in a dryer but I did lose my beloved Fluffy (dog) in an accident 23 years ago.  As much as we wish we could take back the events leading up to it and make different choices, we cannot.  Its important to learn to forgive ourselves.
Can you tell us what you came here for?  Perhaps in stating that, we could better help you.  :wub:

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KayC, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend or disrespect anyone or anything said here. I came to this forum basically to confess what actually happened and try to come to terms with what I did. My partner and friend are the only people who know. With others I've been silent about the details because I have so much shame, guilt and self-hatred. What I want is something I can't have, to turn back time. 

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Did you read the articles on guilt that I posted in the beginning of your thread?  We can't change what happened, only learn to live with our grief and forgive ourselves.  I HAVE been there.

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Yesterday I dreamed my cat came back from the dead. He was in the same position as when I retrieved him and lay him gently on the counter, I kept stroking his head and then he moved and stretched as if he had been taking a nap. I was so happy. In the dream I was thinking to myself, I'm so glad I didn't take him to the crematory yet. Then I woke up.

Still not sleeping and eating much. My life is different, hollow. I know I can't change anything but don't see any way around feeling 100% responsible anyway. I killed my child. Will be speaking with a pet grief counselor tomorrow.

 

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I am glad you will be talking with a pet grief counselor.  I hope you keep us updated on how that's going...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Speaking with the grief counselor helped a lot. I'd recommend it to anyone who is hurting. Normally there are several free options available at the shelters around here, there are pet loss groups who used to meet weekly before the pandemic. But also being able to blurt out, cry, lay all the emotions out on the table privately was good.

She let me talk at length about my cat, his personality and our life together. I felt able to honor him despite what happened. She said what she's seen in her practice is, the pet's death is usually not the only thing going on. Often it's another event layered on top of other emotional events or situations. She herself related the long-ago story of her letting her cat out and it getting fatally hit by a car. She said, what I must try to do is first, be a friend to myself. As a good friend, what support would I offer or say? Learn to interact with myself this way, and often. The other important thing she said was, my goal should be the guilt turns into regret. Eventually. With work. 

Today I opened up the package with the little medallion I'd ordered for my cat's box of ashes. It has his picture. I affixed it to the box, and took the opportunity to add my letter and another keepsake to the box that already includes his collar and certificate of cremation. I am sad all over again. I don't know how these feelings of utter sadness and wishing things were different ever change into regret.

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17 hours ago, Melonfarmer said:

what I must try to do is first, be a friend to myself.

1,000 agree!

It's a gradual process and there's no set timetable as we're all different but I know the pain all too well and am so sorry.  I hope it helps that you got the medallion.  Anything we can do to honor them.  

I'm so glad grief counseling is helpful for you!

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  • 5 weeks later...

I am so sorry.  I know it feels that way when we have a run of things happen.  Try to stay in today as best as you can and not think about the future, we have enough to deal with today.  ;)  Sending positive thoughts and prayers for comfort your way.

Hug can say.jpg

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