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I don’t know what to do next


coastiemike

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I’m 51 now, soon to be 52.  My family members and significant others have always had pets they cared about.  To me, they were always just an addition.  I hope that makes sense.

Everything changed three years ago. We adopted a bonded pair of 9 month old cats from the humane society. They were Annie and Lily.  I brought them home, let them out of their carriers, and Annie immediately bonded to me and I to her.  It was the first time in my 48 years I ever found a pet I loved heart and soul.  Yesterday was the hardest day of my life.  Here is my post on Facebook when I got home yesterday evening:

Over night, Annie took a turn for the worse with her kidney starting to fail.  We came to be with her this morning and spent an hour petting her, loving her, making her have as much comfort as possible.  She tried to wag her tail but couldn’t move it much.  She tried to pick her head up to let us know she realized we were there.  She was finally able to lie on her stomach and move her head back and forth a few times, acknowledging Sarah, then Janet, then I.  She tried to crawl into my lap and onto my chest but didn’t have the strength.  

I picked her up and cradled her in her favorite position and gave her a final kiss.  There was no way I was going to make her feel she was abandoned.  I hugged her while they put her down and was with her to the very end.  

My heart and soul are crushed this morning and I can do nothing but cry.  But she is no longer suffering.  Goodbye sweet girl.  I love you like I have no other pet before.  Sleep well.  I miss the hell out of you already.
 

———-

And here I am, a grown man (avid backpacker, hunter, former military and former crimes against children and homicide police detective) crying on and off every few hours for the past 36 hours.

This time last week she seemed perfectly healthy.  And Thursday night I noticed she seemed off.  I took her to the vet first thing Friday.  They admitted her to the hospital immediately.  On Sunday morning I had to let her go while holding her.  I’m complete crushed. 

Annie is the first thing in my life that brought pure joy to me anytime she sat with me. She laid next to me every night when I went to sleep of her own free will. She followed me around the house, ever curious what I was doing and not really caring what my explanation was.

And now I sit here and can think of nothing else but how damn much I miss her and how damn much it hurts.

What the hell do I do now?

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11 hours ago, coastiemike said:

And here I am, a grown man (avid backpacker, hunter, former military and former crimes against children and homicide police detective) crying on and off every few hours for the past 36 hours.

This is grief...it knows no respecter of persons, it strikes anyone who loves, and what is life without love?  My 25 year old Kitty had kidney and liver failure, first sign Christmas two years ago, I had her put to sleep Jan. 6.  I would have cut her suffering short sooner had I known but they can be good at concealing their pain.  She was old and crotchety so I didn't realize...still she was very much a part of my life as her brother Arlie (dog) was, I lost him just 4 1/2 months before her.  Miss Mocha in 2016 (cat).  We who were a family of four became just me...so hard.  I miss them all.

It helps to write about them, at least it did me.  

I hope this brings you some comfort and peace, I know this is so hard.  :(

Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers

 

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11 hours ago, coastiemike said:

What the hell do I do now?

I wrote this with loss of spouse in mind ten years after losing my husband, but grief is grief and I'm hoping you'll find something helpful in this either now or on down the road.  Grief is an ever-evolving journey...

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

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Also, as you have another cat that will be grieving, I thought this might be of help...
Grieving Pet

 

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I'm so sorry for your loss, my friend, and we all know how much this hurts. You say you don't know what to do, but you're already doing exactly what you need to be doing right now ~ and that is to give yourself permission to lean into your grief, to acknowledge how much your Annie meant to you, and to honor the magnitude of your loss.

Kay's suggestions are wonderful. I also think it helps to understand what you are feeling and why, and to know that you're not alone how you are reacting. I encourage you to read the following:

Pet Loss: A Disenfranchised Grief

Pet Loss: Is It A Different Kind of Grief?

Pet Loss: Why Does It Hurt So Much?

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