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Raki's mom

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Raki, my 22 year old cockatiel, should have died back in the middle of April according to our vet, but he's still hanging on. He's in the last stages of cancer of the wing. He sleeps a lot & eats a lot, trying to compensate for the energy/nutrition that the huge tumor is demanding. I started sleeping on the floor, by his cage at night, & he sleeps peacefully all night. I thought it would be for a week, but last night was 56 days. He waits at the cage door each morning while I'm making our breakfast. We eat together every day before I go to work.

Eventhough he's very old, I really can't picture my daily life without him. I've been reading this site for a few weeks trying to get some insight on what it will be like when it happens. I've been lucky so far. I'm 44 years old & have not experienced the death of someone really close to me, especially part of my every day life. He'll be the first. My husband & I don't have kids, so the house will be so quiet & empty when he's gone. He's our baby.

I feel anxious about how it will happen. I pray every day it will be peacefully while he's asleep. He deserves a peaceful ending. The last 2 years have been a battle for him & he's always taken it like a trooper. The vet tells me it won't be peaceful, but she's been wrong so far. I have his travel cage ready, with a bag of "things" to take if he's in distress and we need to have the doctor end it. I so much hope it won't be that way, scared & startled at the doctor's office.

I'm also anxious about how I'll feel once he's gone. Reading the other posts only hold promises of deep sorrow, depression and emptyness, which is right around the corner for me.

I try to live for the present moment, which does help. He's still alive now & I truly enjoy every minute I spend with him. So I guess you'll be hearing from me at some future moment, the moment I'm not looking forward to. I feel like I've written his post to myself, more than to you out there. Keep Raki in your prayers. Keep me in your prayers. Thanks.

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Dear Raki's Mom,

I'm so sorry to learn of your baby's serious illness, and I certainly appreciate your concerns. Rest assured that we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers as you find your way through the difficult days ahead.

I'm hoping you'll find the following articles helpful:

Anticipatory Grief, http://www.griefhealing.com/article-anticipatory-grief.htm

Thinking It Through: Exploring Questions about Euthanasia, http://www.griefhealing.com/article-explor...-euthanasia.htm

See also the resources listed on this page of my Grief Healing Web site: Animal Hospice, http://www.griefhealing.com/animal-hospice.htm

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Raki's Mom -

I'm so sorry to hear about your baby! I know what you are going through. I had my cat, Dinty, put to sleep on May 3, 2009. For about a month before I had to make the hard decision, I would always wonder if he would still be alive when I woke up in the morning or when I got home from work. He had been ill (chronic renal failure) since June 2008. I was hoping, like you, that he would go peacefully in his sleep. But he got so weak and stopped eating that I thought it was time. I do have to say that my vet was excellent and he did go very peacefully.

Some people will tell you, like they told me, that at least you know it is coming and you can prepare for it. Still doesn't make it easy so my prayers are with you. It has been almost a month for me and I miss Dinty terribly, every day. Each day does get a little better, so I hope that helps.

My advice to you - grieve as much and as long as you need to. Don't let anyone tell you, "it's only an animal". The people I work with don't understand the bond I had and I got really angry. I'm still angry at them. :angry:

One thing that helped me was setting up a memorial for him. I have a pillow with his name on it holding a lock of his hair and a plaque with his picture on it sitting next to his ashes. I touch his urn every day (more than once a day!) and still talk to him. I know he is watching over me and I know that he is pain free now.

Try to stay strong though this difficult time.

Karen

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Dear Raki's Mom,

I'm so sorry you, too, are having to go through anticipatory grief. I spent months with this as well (if not years, I was always so worried about my girl after we'd lost her brother), and I know it's anything but easy.

After the fact, I can only really say that, to me, it was just as bad as the 'real' grief, but just in a different way. It is, though, in my opinion, a bit better than having a sudden and unexpected loss. Although you can't really "prepare" for the enormity of what's to follow, to my mind, when you're able to reflect upon it later (often MUCH later), the 'warning' can soften the blow just a bit....so it's sort of better than nothing.

The dedication you're showing to Raki now (and in the past) will help more than almost anything, I'll bet. It did for me. The fewer perceived regrets we can ward off, the better. You're both extremely lucky to have each other and that love will never leave either of you, not now, not ever. :wub:

My advice would be to trust your OWN instincts/inituition, rather than trying to rely on what any doctor tells you. They can be good for advising, asking many questions of, helping you to 'prepare', pain mgmnt., etc., but your connection with Raki is the most important and telling thing, and will help guide you if you simply open yourself to it.

I know you're scared of the pain your heart will have to bear, whenever.....we all are. And we just do our best to try and live with it &/or somehow transcend it (or some of it) during our often-long grief journey afterwards. But you may as well save that for when it comes, and try not to worry overly much about it now, while it isn't in the present. What you're doing now, trying to stay in the moment as much as possible, is already "the best" you can do right now. Don't beat yourself up if you slip into thoughts of the future - just notice it, and tell yourself you're allowed to be imperfect about the whole process. You don't need added, self-imposed guilt on top of everything else.

Of course you can't "picture (your) daily life without him." You've never experienced that before. Again, trying to learn how to cope with such an experience is what grieving's all about. Yes, you've been fortunate (or would that be UNfortunate? depends on your perspective!) to have not been touched by a major loss so far. But you might consider, too, that even IF you had other kids (whether human or not) as well.....would that make the pain any less? I don't think so. I still had my feline daughter here when we lost her brother. Yes, she ended up helping me TONS, but the pain was still intense, regardless. And she also became very ill from her own grief, so I had additional worries & fears to contend with in conjunction with my sorrow. And now I have no fur-children (at least, not my own), so I've experienced it both ways. Neither way was easy to take. It's all so individual.

Your also doing well to prepare that "bag of things", and to learn whatever you can about the more practical matters that may come up. If you've not given some thought, too, to how and what you want done (services and other necessary arrangements) afterward, you might give some thought to that now, before you're faced with a confused and shocky mind, making all of that that much more difficult. I did much of that quite unconventionally (that's me!) and am glad I chose wisely, according to what I wanted, not what was anyone else's expectation.

We all hope for that "perfect" transitioning. Some of us get a pretty decent one; others don't. All we can do beforehand is try our best to prepare the things that may aid that happening....but the rest is not in our control, much as we want/need it to be. Again, I've experienced both ends of the scale there.....and so far, I'm still here, still coping as best I can. With our girl, having learned many important things from her brother's passing, I did try to prepare everything I could possibly think of towards her having a much easier time of it....and for the most part that worked. However, there were STILL a few things taken out of my hands that were upsetting, but at least I can tell myself now that the things I did, were the ones that served her best....and served ME best, too, by extension. I did the best I could, with what I could control, and the rest was unexpected, so I couldn't have prepared for them. I still could have, conceivably, reacted in a more constructive way at the time.....but hey....when your heart is in your throat, how much can you really expect of yourself? I can't say I've fully worked through all those upsets yet, but I give myself permission to take all the time I want with that, too.

So yes, yes, yes! Enjoy every possible minute you have with your beloved boy right now. Tell him everything you can think of that you don't want to regret NOT having told him, and just let that love flow between the two of you. That's something you'll NEVER regret. And if talking/typing 'out loud' to yourself is what helps, then that's what helps, so by all means, use it.

Wishing you all the best that can possibly be had right now and in the future, and holding prayers in my heart for you all,

(((((((many hugs))))))))

Maylissa (and my Nissa & Sabin angels)

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Guest Jacksin's Mom

Hello,

I read your posting about anticipating the loss of your pet. I think your concerns are very common. Unless a pet is lost in an accident or a VERY sudden, life-threatening disease, we all go through this time of anticipation. Whatever you are feeling, it's what you are honestly feeling, so I would say, try not to fear your feelings. Even if they are intense, they are a measure of your love for your pet and they are appropriate for the situation.

We put our almost 15-yr old dog down yesterday. Evidently he had a stroke. Previously, he'd been ill on several occasions and we just never knew if he would make it. In fact, we'd made arrangements with the vet on how we wanted to handle his last shot, right down to the location (outside in the vet's park, as he hated going inside that building, he was a fear-aggressive dog at the vets). We also got a special sedative from the vet to give him an hour ahead of his last shot. Then, the day all this was to happen (a few months ago), he recovered! So we put the medicine in the freezer and breathed a sigh of relief, but of course, knew eventually this same scenario would have to unfold.

For me, having a pet is knowing in all likelihood (unless as the owner we ourselves are aged), most likely we are going to outlive our pets. Someone once told me they thought having a pet helped us to learn an important lesson in being able to accept loss. I tend to agree with that thinking. But I am resolved to never have just one pet. I think the loss that is the most difficult , at least for me, would be to have NO pet remaining in my life. So I am resolved never to be a single pet owner......Now we have just one dog, but soon we will adopt a cat (we previously had 2, but the dog we lost yesterday was not a cat lover, so we did not replace our kitties when they died). Perhaps getting another pet (not necessarily another bird) before your pet dies might be beneficial to you.

Whatever you decide, know that you will be ok in the long run after your pet dies. You will grieve, as you should, as we all do. But ultimately, you will be left with the happy memories and love you shared with your pet. I look forward to that time myself.

Take good care.

Jacksin's Mom (Jacksin Pawlick, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, sent to the Rainbow Bridge on Sat, May 30, 2009)

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I would like to thank all of you for your kind, inspiring & hopeful words. Sometimes the kindness of strangers amazes me! Raki made it through another week so I'm very thankful for that.

Back in April, when the vet told us it was close to that time, we made all of the arrangements for his cremation, ordered his urn & wrote his obituary email that I will send out to family/friends when he passes. I've taken bunches of pictures & have planned his memorial spot in our house. His "buddy"(which is a dish towel), will be cremated with him.

I agree that his gradual decline has given me time to get ready & to spend some special time with him. My husband & I are planning a few weekend trips(post Raki) so we won't be moping around the house, staring at the empty space where his cage used to be. :unsure:

I will keep you posted & thanks again.

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Raki died on Saturday, June 13th around 11am.

There are 2 thoughts that are making me cope with it(so far) better than I thought I would. One, is that his suffering is over. Two, is that he passed in the most peaceful way you could imagine. I was so concerned about that. He was fine, early on Saturday morning, eating in the back of his cage. When I checked on him later, he was laying motionless on top of his food dish(he hadn't even fallen off his perch). My husband picked him up & he was still breathing, but so weak that he couldn't move much. We sat on the couch together, my husband holding him in his hand, & me stroking the top of his head. He stayed that way for about an hour, looking up at us, & grinding his beak(a sign of contentment with birds). Then he took in a big breath, let it out & that was the end. It was beautiful that we were there & he felt loved until the end.

Since then, I can honestly say that I have cried more tears than I thought physically possible. I miss him so much! But at the same time, I think I'll be alright. Mornings are the hardest because we shared breakfast together every day. Bedtime is hard too, because I'm sleeping back in my bed instead of by his cage, but I hug his favorite pillow as I fall asleep. I feel like a zombie at work so far, but my coworkers have been very understanding. I'm just going to take it day by day & hope the pain is a little less each day.

Below is the email notice I sent to friends & family after his death..my baby Raki.

On June 13th, our faithful feathered friend, Raki, passed away after battling cancer for the last two years of his life. He was more than 22 yrs old, very old for a cockatiel, and he passed away quietly with his “mommy and daddy bird” close by. He will be so missed by us, not only as a part of our daily life at home, but also as a travel companion.

He loved to travel with us, or more specifically, go camping with us. It all started in Florida with that first camping trip to Gator Park in the Everglades. He sat outside, in his cage, enjoying a warm breeze. He camped all over the state, including many trips to Fort Wilderness at Disney, Thanksgivings at Jabours in Key West, and greeting his tipsy mommy & daddy as they came back from the tiki bar at the Lake Okeechobee KOA. His last camping adventure was joining us for 2 weeks of National Guard duty in Delaware. He sat in the window of the rv & watched us in formation.

Raki was such a little character. He had an independent streak & would definitely let us know his likes and dislikes. He was our little shadow, always curious to see what we were doing. Early on when we were folding laundry one day, Raki found his passion in life…towels. According to him, every towel in sight belonged to him. We covered his cage with a colorful beach towel and his “buddy” was a dish towel. His buddy went with him everywhere, even being cremated with him, stained with his blood and his pink pain medicine. Raki loved to fly, as we never had his wings clipped. He would fly like a crazy bird, able to turn corners very quickly, doing laps around the room for exercise. When he would finish, he’d spread his wings & strut around, showing what a big bird he was. He also liked to sing, tap with his beak, take a slow ride on the ceiling fan, eat and take an occasional sip of red wine. His favorite songs were Theme to Eastenders, Could It Be Magic(Barry Manilow), Here Comes the Sun(Beatles) & The Little Drummer Boy. His favorite foods were popcorn, cereal, mashed potatoes & chicken.

We learned a lot about life from Raki, especially the way he dealt with his illness. The two phrases that come to mind are “live for now” and “zest for life”. On his good days, he’d spend his time sitting in a sunny window, watching squirrels and other birds. At night, he’d sit in that same window, watching the moonlight and sleeping. On his bad days, he’d sleep a lot, but always found the strength to come out of the cage to share a snack with us, showing us his appreciation with his happy chirp. As his health deteriorated, he’d accept his new limitations and enjoy what he still could do. Until the end, he kept his cute personality and fought to live another day, taking pleasure from each moment.

Please Raki, wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge. http://rainbowsbridge.com/Poem.htm

Raki's Mom

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Dear Raki's Mommy & Daddy Bird,

I'm so sorry to hear about your darling Raki's transition. I'd been holding my breath ever since you first posted, awaiting this sad day, and now it has come. :( :( :( Please accept all my sincerest sympathies for what you're going through now, and in the times to come.

I know it often seems far too soon after such a major loss to think of the better aspects, but I'm so glad for a few of them in your case... such as being blessed with such peaceful and love-filled final moments for all of you, most especially for Raki himself. I sighed with 'relief' myself, reading about his passage, now knowing he was spared any undue suffering. The fact that you're now able to carry those moments along with you during your grief is truly a treasure to hold closely to your aching heart. I know many of us who've lost our beloved ones would give anything to have had the same kind of experience.

And although it's a double-edged sword of sorts, to have spent such a huge part of your life with someone you loved so much, and then have them suddenly not physically there anymore & the attendant pain that ensues, it is also a wonderful testament and blessing to the love & care you shared, that you were fortunate enough to have lived and loved with Raki for all of 22 years....longer than even many marriages or human friendships. But I also know how that sudden change from everything you knew and were a part of can tumble your world into chaos. So we strive to take both sides of the coin into our processes and do the best we can with it all.

It's also good to know you're fortunate to have some caring co-workers who allow you to grieve as necessary and I'm sure that will be an aid to you as you go through the worst of this painful time.

It was so endearing to read all about Raki's own, unique ways & that was a lovely tribute to a birdie so treasured. I'm quite sure he would have had me in stitches of sheer delight and glee, had I ever met him, and it would have been a joy to have come prepared to gift him with yet another cozy towel for his collection. (bittersweet smile here) I'm also glad you kept his wings intact for his entire life, so that he could have his freedom to fly at will. (frankly, I can't even imagine otherwise, as I think that's cruel, but I know some people do clip them for some ungodly reason)

The two phrases that come to mind are “live for now” and “zest for life”.
I'd have to agree that yes, most of our beloved 'animals' live those phrases so well, indeed, and leave us with much to aspire to, and I hope you can hold that up as a beacon for your life, to follow in his wise footsteps.

Your precious Raki will not only wait for you, I'm sure, but will be just as near to you as your breath, as he always was. I know when my 2nd budgie (my constant pal whom I grew up with and who had free run of our house) crossed over, I was horribly depressed, with no one, really, to share my pain with (although my Mum, who felt so bad for me, did make my brother build him a beautiful teak casket, with blue velvet, quilted lining, and I oiled the outside) and one day, a couple of weeks after his passing, I opened the front door after coming home from school, still feeling that horrible emptiness, and DISTINCTLY heard him cheep his usual "Hello!!" from the kitchen, where his cage was still standing (wouldn't allow my Mother to move it yet)!!! It was SO clear and loud (the door had already been closed behind me, so it wasn't from some bird outside....besides, wild birds in Canada don't sound at all like budgies!) that I bolted into the kitchen, just in case some miracle had occurred. Well, it did and didn't. No, he wasn't miraculously back in the physical, but YES, he'd contacted me to let me know he still loved me and was still alive, just in spirit form. That was my very first ADC from a loved one, but no one knew anything about those, really, back then, so I kept it to myself.

So while this board doesn't have a dedicated ADC (After Death Communication) forum, or thread, as some do, I hope you and/or Raki's Daddy will be even further blessed by any number of similar visits/signs, too, in the days ahead, and you will be able to join the large ranks of those who've been shown, time and again, that their beloveds' souls and the love shared lives on. Raki IS still with you but free from bodily pain and limitations now. That big a love never leaves, and if you talk to him (in your head or out loud), sooner or later it is my hope for you that you will know he'll always be with you.

Bless Raki, and bless you and his Daddy, for all the love you created together, to shine forth forevermore and bring you peace, even through all the tears.

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Dear Raki's Mom,

I'm so very sorry to learn of the death of your precious feathered baby, and I so appreciate your detailed description of his life with you and your husband, and of the last hours you spent with him. Clearly your darling Raki was blessed to be so loved, just as I'm sure you felt blessed to have him in your life.

While it's true that we don't have a forum specifically dedicated to the topic of After-Death Communications, we've certainly discussed it frequently on our site. For those who are interested, here is a partial list of threads about ADCs:

Do You Really Think We’ll See Them Again?

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...ost&p=29414

Contact With Deceased

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=3513

After Death Communication

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=2580

Could This be a Sign? http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...ost&p=20923

Allison’s Lessons

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...ost&p=20875

Is It True? Will I See Her Again?

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...post&p=3472

Loss of a Best Friend

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...ost&p=19626

Lisa Williams Medium and Clairvoyant

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...ost&p=17083

Induced After Death Communication

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...ost&p=16773

I Swear I Could Smell Him

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...ost&p=15856

See also this post: http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?s=&a...ost&p=26870

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Just a quick interjection here --> thanks, Marty, for being a dear, as usual, & posting those links for Raki's Mom (or others). I was hoping you'd pick up on that ;) since you always seem to have them more 'at the ready' (somehow!) & I just didn't have the time to look some of them up! :wub:

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  • 1 month later...

It's been 6 weeks & 2 days since Raki died. Sometimes it feels like yesterday & sometimes it feels like 6 months ago. First of all, thanks Maylissa & MartyT for your sympathy & kind words. I took a break from this site because reading all of the grief can just bring it all back again.

His cage, toys & even his half eaten food from the day before he died are still right where they were six weeks ago. I haven't been able to move a thing, yet. His urn is there, along with a digital photo album that keeps scrolling through pictures. The house is so empty & there's a small pit in my stomach that I wonder if it'll ever go away. I have 4 moods that I go through: crying, ready to cry, numb, pretending. But even after all of this, deep down, I feel like I'll be okay. I've had great support from family, friends, coworkers. I just don't have that zip in my step like I used to.

I read some of the other posts and wanted to respond, but wasn't sure if I would insult anyone who has just lost a parent, child or spouse. Raki was my child, but I decided to stay here on the pet loss group.

Thanks again for the past responses. I'm just taking one day at a time.

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Dear Raki's Mom,

Yes, many of us, or even most of us, experience that changeable, or even concurrent, distorted sense of "time since....". It can feel like both an eternity, yet just a short while, and it's very hard on us.

Some of us are helped in letting our grief burst forth by continuing to 'immerse' ourselves in it, yet others can't take even an ounce more, so each to his/her own, and whatever works best for YOU is what's best. And that can change, too, over time, or go back and forth. It's all very individual.

It's coming up 3 years for me, for my fur-daughter, and I STILL haven't moved some of her things, or just very slightly. My kids' window-seat is still up, their shared post & our girl's newer post are both still where they always were, my girl's supply cupboard still has most of her things in it, their pictures cycle through on both my computer screen and in one of those digital photo frames, etc. It's important to remember it's OUR decision, not anyone else's, as to what we do with their personal items, and that we can stay feeling more connected to them through those things, for as long as we need. Again, whatever we prefer is what should apply. So it's all "fine."

Mind you, in my case, other neighbourhood feline friends have used their seat and post, and even a few, select toys (ones that weren't favourites, or which we had several duplicates of) since then and through the years, so they ended up being kept in place, regardless. But the first few times these other friends 'dared' to use them, I almost had a heart attack, as it seemed so disrespectful in one way...yet also comforting in another. But I wished to give these others some joy, too, and in turn, some of them even contributed to signs I received from my girl, through them. And much later, it also evolved into an homage to my kids to allow others to remind me of how much happiness these objects had, and still could, provide. But that was a long process for me.

Your moods are readily understandable and I'm sure many of us have shared them. I could add many other moods as well, in several layers at times. It's very good that you feel you will be okay in time. I wasn't so sure, myself, and can still have many moments when that's in question, as this earthly life still doesn't feel as important for me now as it used to....but then, I had very little support overall, so this difference is pretty understandable, as it extends beyond the grief itself.

I can relate to your feelings of hesitancy in posting replies if you sense, or even just wonder, if others' relationships weren't of the same depth, character &/or intensity. Too many times I put my feelings at risk of ridicule or derision, even with those I'd had reason to suspect would understand, but really didn't. Once in awhile I'd come across someone who felt & thought the same way as I did, about their own babies, and that would help a lot, but it was fairly few and far between. It made for a pretty lonely journey. That said, I seem to almost always find at least ONE such person, somewhere, every now and then, and especially when I need to find them the most.They come and go, cyclically, it seems.

I was also drawn to read parents' feelings and accounts about human child loss, as that was what immediately resonated the closest for me. You might also find much comfort and empathy in the various works & personal views/attitudes by Allen & Linda Anderson on their Angel Animals Network. I have 2 of their books and find them to be among the MOST empathetic and helpful, out of all those I've read.

One day at a time is the best advice for any kind of trauma, I think, including major loss. I've also found after awhile, it becomes, concurrently, one YEAR at a time.....still plugging away, myself.

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Raki's Mom, I can sympathize with what you are going through. Just after Mother's Day this year, we found out that our Classic Tabby, Collin, has cancer and that it was already spreading, so there was not much we could do. We have been making him as comfortable as possible and I cry every night wondering if the choice we made is the right thing to do or not. We decided to have him put to sleep and the vet should actually be here any minute. I am writing this as some kind of therapy for me and those of you have or will have to go through this. I am devastated to lose him. He is everything to me. I can't imagine going to bed tonight without him by my side!

He came to us from a shelter when he was just about a year old. We weren't even looking for a cat, but rather a newborn kitten at the time, but something in both of us knew he needed to come home with us. He has been in our home for 10 years and he along with his brother's and sister (2 cats, 1 dog) are spoiled rotten! :-) We were not able to have children of our own, so our kids have four legs and tails! RM, pray for Raki and pray for yourself. You can never prepare yourself for the end, I think that you can just have the peace in knowing that they are not suffering any longer.

We lost our Mane Coon, Candy, while we were away on a trip...so, to have Collin with us and know that he will be passing with all of us here is such a comfort. I have talked to Collin every night since we found out his condition and last night I told him that it was time, it was okay with us for him to go and to be with Candy. Candy needs him now and he seemed to have a look in his eyes as if to say, thank you.

I wish that I would have found this site earlier, but what I have read in the past 24 hours and helped more than ever.

Thoughts go out to everyone who has or will have to go through this .....it isn't easy and we need one another to get through it!

Take care,

~Collin's Mom~

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Thanks for the response Maylissa. Taking it one day at a time is all that any of us can do.

Collin's mom..I hope you made it through your baby's passing. I'm sure it was a big comfort that you were with him. I know those first few nights are horrible, so let us know how you are doing.

Here is a picture of Raki in his younger days, falling asleep on my straw hat, while we were on a camping trip.

post-12964-1249064046_thumb.jpg

Below is my last picture with Raki, about 3 weeks before he died. He didn't look beautiful on the outside at this point, but he was still beautiful on the inside.

Raki's Mom

post-12964-1249063828_thumb.jpg

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