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Thread: Farewell, old friend: The pain of losing a pet

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default Farewell, old friend: The pain of losing a pet



    Today I found one of Sukie's whiskers under a stair-rod and I wept all over again, even though she's been gone three months.' That was the line that moved me most in a letter I received in my postbag, from a woman who'd lost her beloved cat.
    And after I'd published her letter in my agony aunt column, I had a staggering response from readers who felt exactly the same. Indeed, so many heartfelt letters arrived - 'I cannot look at where Buster left his scratch marks on the door, and yet I cannot bear to paint them over'; 'I am writing this in my greenhouse, shaking with sobs - I could not let my wife see me like this, but truly Sheba was the only living thing I have ever truly loved and who loved me' - that I wrote Goodbye Dear Friend, Coming To Terms With The Loss Of A Pet, reissued this month.
    People often sneer at those who mourn when their pets die, saying that the grief can't possibly be as bad as it is over a human being. They think that 'getting another one' will put everyone thing right.
    Or they claim that all this sentimentality about pets, and the increase in the number of pet crematoria and pet bereavement helplines is some kind of mawkish, new and over-sentimental 'American' or 'Diana-like' phenomenon. But people have always felt devastating grief when their pets die.
    Byron's inscription on the headstone to his dog, Boatswain, illustrates the emotions perfectly. 'Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.
    This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain, a dog.'

    You can't really understand the grief people feel over a pet's death without understanding their relationship with animals in the first place.
    Pets may be substitute children, completely dependent on their owners for their well-being and offering unconditional love. I suspect this was true in the case of actress Calista Flockhart who understandably went to pieces when her dog, Webster, died. (Her boyfriend, Harrison Ford, was, apparently, so unsympathetic about her grief, being of the 'Why not get another one?' brigade, that they even split up temporarily.)

    Emotional: Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson play a married couple who have to deal with the death of their pet Labrador, Marley

    And artist Tracey Emin is unashamed in admitting that her cat, Docket, is a substitute child. 'Docket is not just a pet to me. Without sounding too corny, he is really like my baby,' she has written. 'The reason why I love him so much is because of all the love I have invested into him. 'To some people, a cat is just a cat. It miaows, it has to be fed and it has a tail. But for me, cats are small animals which occupy a massive amount of my mind - especially Docket, who I live with.
    'If I'm honest, I realise that I plan a lot of my life around my cat. And by this, I don't mean small things, I mean where I live, who I live with and my future plans. Should I move to the country? Should I live by the sea?
    Every large-scale decision that I make involves Docket.' An animal's love is always wholehearted. It's never grouchy in the mornings, or irritable in the car if you lose your way. It never criticises you when you're down or says things such as: 'I think you are wrong'.
    It's always there, wordless, faithful, ever available with a lick and a warm furry body to snuggle up to when you feel down. A dog can act, too, as a protector, barking when strangers come to the house. You feel safe when it's around. And the grief one feels about the death of a pet can be compounded because the grief can feel so lonely.
    When a close relative dies there are plenty of other bereaved people around to comfort you, because the dead person had close relationships with other people in his or her life. But often the only person who knew your animal really well, was you, the owner. Grief over an animal can be tremendously isolating.

    Why is it that people think that because pets can't talk, are smaller than us and don't last very long - we animal lovers have to suffer bereavement after bereavement if we have animals in our lives - that we should get over their deaths so quickly?
    I've had letters from people who are still grieving for animals years and years after their death, and there are pet cemeteries where couples often go up week after week and year after year to put flowers on their dead pet's graves.
    In Dogs Today magazine, which features a memorial column for pets, one obituary reads: 'Shayne: I can't believe it's two years since you left me, but in my heart you live on for ever. We had 18 wonderful years together. You helped me grow up and taught me so much with your love. We will be together soon, wee man. Wait for me, son, love Mum xxxxxx'
    Even rats have their day. This was to Loot, who died aged three. 'A shy gentleman who loved his food. Put to sleep because of cancer. Now reunited with brother Nailer. Thank you for keeping me company. I shall not forget you.' An animal may be only an animal, but it is, like a human being, a form of life - even if it has four legs or a beak, fur or feathers, and no language to say 'I love you'. And yet to adore something so fundamentally different to ourselves is often seen as rather weird.
    The English ladies in Naples who feed the stray cats; the widow who leaves all her money to Battersea Dogs' Home; the man who kills himself when his pet dies; the tourist who spends 6,000 bringing a stray dog back home from Spain - they're all thought to be very sad and touching, but completely bonkers.
    Sometimes I wonder why it never occurs to people who don't really love animals that it is they who are the crazy ones.
    At Salisbury Cathedral, the former Bishop, the Rt Rev John Austin Baker, would hold regular services for animal blessings.
    'Some say it's very sentimental and that there's no point in blessing an animal,' he said. 'But the beauty of the life and character of an animal is a blessing in itself. Perhaps we should get blessed by animals rather than the other way round.' Each of us who has loved, and been loved, by an animal can't fail to feel blessed. It's small wonder we grieve for them when they die.

    Farewell, old friend: The pain of losing a pet | Mail Online

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    Elite Member viggofan's Avatar
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    imo only true animal lovers can know the absolute loss of losing a pet. That pet is a part of the family and it is so difficult to lose one.
    YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT
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    Elite Member sparkly's Avatar
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    It makes me choke up just thinking about it. They're members of the family, and it's impossible to let go. At least for me anyway.
    Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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    Elite Member heart_leigh's Avatar
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    When my beloved cat passed away, I was practically inconsolable. I'd had her when she was a wee kitty until she died of old age. I had gone through so many life-changing events and she was there with me. Even now, just thinking about her brings tears to my eyes.
    Rock the fuck on!

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    Elite Member Icepik's Avatar
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    They are a very important part of the family. I have no idea what I am going to do when my cats die. I have 4 (18, 15, 12, 9) and I am particularly close to one of them. he follows me around and has to sleep with me every night. He's done this for 12 years. How would I ever cope without his being around? I don't even like thinking about it

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Pets have even more of a bond for many people than their fellow human beings. The unconditional love thingie. I still fondly remember all my pet cats. It really sucked when they were gone, but eventually the pain goes away and you remember all the good times. So...time does heal wounds.

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    Elite Member crumpet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkly View Post
    It makes me choke up just thinking about it. They're members of the family, and it's impossible to let go. At least for me anyway.
    Me,too. I knew I shouldn't have read that damned thing.

    Anyway, people talk about unconditional love with a child, but an animal gives you unconditional love in return. Kids often put conditions on their love for their parents, at least off an on during different stages of life.
    Only the good die young.........................
    bitches like me live forever!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    my dog died in 1984, and i was devastated. he was 16, and stroked out during the night. It was right after my mom died, and sometimes i think i cried harder when my dog died, than anything else. to this day i havent owned a dog.
    Basic rule of Gossip Rocks: Don't be a dick.Tati
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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    People often sneer at those who mourn when their pets die
    And I say fuck them. I have little to no use for people who can't understand deeply loving animals and/or pets.

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    Elite Member KandyKorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Icepik View Post
    he follows me around and has to sleep with me every night. He's done this for 12 years. How would I ever cope without his being around? I don't even like thinking about it
    I feel the same way...I don't know how I will cope when my dog passes...he's my little right hand man, ALWAYS by my side.
    Last edited by KandyKorn; April 23rd, 2009 at 11:20 AM. Reason: can't spell
    I'm not quite drunk enough to really care, but is this her violation of her violation of her violation of her violation of probation or her violation of her violation of her violation of her probation????? ~MontanaMama on LL's latest arrest.

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    Elite Member Novice's Avatar
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    One of my MIL's cats died recently.... he was 23... and she's so embarassed that she misses him.
    Free Charmed.

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    Elite Member Kittylady's Avatar
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    It took me nearly 4 years following the death of my first cat, Suki (short for Suzuki - I loved bikes even back then) to allow another into my life. I'd had her since I was 11 and I was 21 when she died of cancer, and she went with me through my terrible teens, the ups and down of friendships, rows with my mum, starting out in work and the good and bad days that go with it. I adored her and she adored me. My Mum always knew when I was coming home as Suki would get her furry little ass out from where ever she'd been dozing and go and sit in the window watching for me about 10 minutes before I got home. When she died I cried and cried, and even months later it'd catch me unawares and I'd end up having a sob over losing her. I still miss her now, over ten years later.

    When I eventually got another cat it had taken a lot of soul searching before I made the decision, but within 24 hours of Tessa's arrival I found myself wondering how I had got through 4 years without sharing my home with a cat. I have another 4 now (with Tess being supreme tyrant over them all, bless her evil little heart), but I get a cold chill knowing that some day I'll lose them. But the here and now with them is what I concentrate on when I think like that, and the love and amusement they bring me each day outweighs the grief I know that I'll have to face when they are gone.

    Edited to add: I knew someone who had 2 cats that were in their 20's when they died, so 20+ years of happiness for a much shorter period of grief seems like a fair trade.

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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    Let me tell you, I may sound crazy and unbalanced, but I love my dog more than anything. She's been the most consistent, loving relationship I've ever had. I can't even think about losing her.

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    Is that her, Kris? Nothing better than a black girly lab! I have 2. My 12 1/2 year old is what they say you should never do....a spur of the moment buy from a pet store at Christmas...but she is the best dog that ever lived. She's had cancer twice and now has Addison's disease. We're well north of 20K in vet bills in the last 3 years, but what are you going to do? She tried to die a couple of times before we figured out the Addison's and I was absolutely hysterical. I know when the time comes I'll be in mourning for a member of the family.

    My 1 1/2 year old from the very fancy breeder, who cost 4 times as much and I had to fly to Pittsburg to get her....a complete bone head, but we love her.

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    Elite Member Witchywoman's Avatar
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    I'm blubbering like a big boob right now reading this thread. I was always the catlady even when I was a child. We always had cats. I was lucky enough to have most of them til the ripe old ages of 18, 19 yrs. They are the most wonderful creatures. The day came when they were all gone and I had this thought "what would it be like to have a dog?" I got my dog 2 yrs ago and a month later rescued 2 lil cat brothers and they grew up together as very best of friends. 3 months ago I got another puppie of course for Roxy to play with. I swear these 4 babies supply my life with incredible happiness. Each of them occupy a deep place in my heart. They r with me 24/7. Animals fill a void in our lives. I couldnt have children and from what I see out there Im so glad I have dogs and cats.

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