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Death of a Loved One

The death of a loved one is hard. Especially when it is a beloved pet who has been part of the family for years. Esme was part of my life for almost eight years. She was the first pet I owned that was -my- pet. Once Esme met Jeff, she adopted him as her favorite male human and allowed him to spoil her even more than I did. In the end, she was our pet and part of our family.

Death does bring with it all kinds of emotional pain and guilt. I keep wondering if there was something I could have done. Should have done. But, at the end of the day, I must accept that I will never know. I gave her eight years of pampered love and I have to be content with that. (I am not yet content. So, I do the only thing I can: write the pain away.)

Jeff found a wonderful pet crematorium that allowed private viewings: Precious Pet Animal Crematorium. They were wonderful. The best compliment I could give is that they ran it like I would run it. They were gentle with Esme's body and respectful of the whole situation. I appreciated that.

I learned how pet cremations were performed. I learned that the cremation takes hours—funny how no one ever mentions that part of it—and that in the end, brittle bones and ash are left. These remains are taken from the incinerator to a machine that pulverizes the bones into cremation ash; dust really. That ash is put into a container and then into a plastic bag. The bag is put into the urn. The urn is then put into another plastic bag and then a box. It was this box we brought home with us.

Now the urn is up on the top of the curio cabinet with her collar and tag around it. It is a beautiful urn, up high like Esme liked to be. I will miss her every day for the rest of my life. I know that it will hurt less over time. For now, there is a ragged Esme-shaped hole in my heart.

I appreciate the condolences, well wishes, and donations to shelters in Esme's name. All of it has helped the hurt of loss.

While no cat can replace Esme, I warned Jeff that I might just go looking for a rescue in November or December; a diluted calico that was born in September or October. He told me, "That's OK. There's room for a rescue kitten in our home." It makes me love him that much more. I got used to a four cat household. Someday, we will be again, when the right little rescue asks us to take her home.

In the meantime, I'm going to cry a lot and miss my grumpy, bitey kitty. But I know she's at peace now and that brings me comfort.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 21st, 2011 02:34 am (UTC)
Sep. 21st, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
Gah, I'm crying.

It is hard. It is very, very hard. You will miss her every day for the rest of your life. Pets are close to us in a way that other humans often aren't. We see them every day, we touch and hold them every day, and so we feel the loss a hundred times a day, not just when we would have been making a phone call or planning a visit or spending the holidays with someone. It's not that we necessarily love them more than other people, though sometimes we do, just that we are vulnerable to their loss in a very particular way.

I've never understood this: People always talk about "letting go," how hard it is to let go, how it is phrased as the ultimate goal of the grieving process. Nobody really talks about how, in the beginning of grief, "letting go" is about the last thing you are capable of, or want to do, or even should do. It's not a letting go, but a rearranging of all of the parts of your life that touched the other life that's gone so that the raw edges aren't constantly rubbing against each other, but it's always still there, and always will be. The goal of grief isn't to stop grieving or to let go of anything. The goal is what it has always been: to love. I've done this often enough by now to think that a huge part of grief is . . . learning to love differently. It's very, very hard to adjust to that, to loving in the absence of. Almost nobody talks about how love doesn't just freeze in its tracks and stay the same after we lose someone, that it's alive on its own terms, and it moves and deepens and changes for a very long time after the loss -- sometimes it doesn't stop doing that -- and that is what surprises me every time.

That empty place will always be there. I don't think anyone would rather have the empty place than the person that used to fill it. But you get to where the empty place is more of a window, and it becomes less of a hole and more . . . something that lets the light in.
Sep. 21st, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
I'm sorry I made you cry.

The way I am trying to look at "letting go" is to let her go her idealized paradise without having to worry about me anymore because, someday we will meet in the clearing at the end of the path. But it is hard. I still want her to be here. I still want her love and affection and demands.

Someday, when that hole is a window instead of a ragged wound, we will both know she no longer has to worry about me. Instead, she gets to play with feathers and sleep in the sunshine until it's time to meet up with me again.
Sep. 21st, 2011 05:24 am (UTC)
You made me cry too, but they were tears for you, your kitty and everything we love that dies. You will likely hear her [likely at night - and be annoyed, then realize it was just a visit].

I am anticipating that my poor kitty will not remain enfleshed with me for long. She's almost 21 years old and starting to wind down, so my tears are for her, too.

Sep. 21st, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
Although I never saw the kidling IRL, I will always remember her. But you have a good thing going, as you have other happy, but sad, furry friends. Give them lovin' and attention as they cope with the brave new world...
Sep. 21st, 2011 07:13 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry! *hugs*
Sep. 21st, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss. Hope you find a nice kitty. :)
Sep. 25th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
I am so sorry for your loss *huge hugs*
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )