So, for just over the last month, I have known that my beautiful foster kitties were going back to their Mum. It wasn’t what was expected, they were going to be with me until their final days on this earth, but sometimes life happens that way. And that’s ok and not the point of my post. I have taken time to deal with this, and therefore not posted my insights until now.
So through August, I gradually began to feel many different emotions, culminating the week before they were going. During that week especially I was crying on and off every day, in places and with people I felt safe to cry with. And that was healing. I felt physically sick. I didn’t want to eat much either, but I pushed myself to eat, and to eat as healthily as I could, to exercise and to just do what I could to get through that week. Especially being compassionate and taking care of myself.
I used that time to say everything to these little lads that I wanted to say, gratitude for them being in my life, all they had brought to my life, the love I have for them, and how much I had enjoyed them being with me.
Now what I was going through was something known as ‘anticipatory grief’. It effectively is where we start to grieve before the event has actually happened. Perhaps it is meant to lessen the blow, like us wearing a wedding ring on the finger that in JinJitsu relates to grief!
People often go through anticipatory grief with loved ones for instance that they can see fading in front of their eyes over time.
And we do it with pets where we know there time is coming most definitely as well. Although these beauties weren’t passing over, they were still leaving my life, and that was a heck of a loss that I needed to grieve.
I will share more of my learnings in my next blog, but for this one, my tips are:
– being aware that you are grieving can be very empowering as to how you care for and treat yourself
– having gratitude and really being in the moment with them can help during this time. Cherish all their quirks, their ‘presents’ <3 , their vocals, and their personality.
– tell them just how much you love them and all they have brought to your life.
– talk to people you feel safe to share your feelings with, who won’t minimise what you are going through, who are there to listen. This may be people who are not family or even friends and that too is ok.
– take walks in nature and get outside as Mother Nature is the greatest of healers.
– research suggests allowing yourself a certain amount of time to grieve daily before getting up and on with the day e.g. 1/2hr. I would get up and sit in my front porch, door open, connecting with Nature. That was my time to honour and hear the part of me that was grieving this loss.
If you are going through a time like this right now, know there are authorities out there who help.
There is the Pet Bereavement Helpline on 0800 096 6606, run by the Blue Cross, whose team are there to just listen. And as I know from the work I do, most often what we need is to just be heard, and that can be enough. There is also Cats Protection, Paws to Listen and several other mental health charities like the Samaritans, to name another, who have helped me in the past around pet bereavement.
If you are going through such a difficult time, I send my love out to you and ask you to reach out to like-minded individuals or charities, who understand that your pet was not ‘just a cat/dog/horse’, they were extended family.