How to Cope with the Death of a Pet
NOTE: This is a guest blog submitted to us by Nicholas Singh.
First of all, if you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve just experienced the loss of a beloved pet.
And, for that, I am deeply sorry.
I have been wanting to write this article for several weeks, but every time I sat at the computer to begin writing, my fingers froze.
I am always shy to express any thoughts on such private and sensitive matters.
I asked for some advice and the best advice I received was: “just be honest.”
So, I will do my best to be as honest and open as possible, in hopes that my story will resonate with you.
In the summer of 2017, I worked as a content writer for a wholesale company.
The co-owner of the company had a beautiful, black cat named Raven.
Raven was fourteen years old with the spirit of a young kitten.
Growing up, I was never allowed any pets, because doctors said that they gave me a lot of allergies.
I had always wanted one but had accepted the fact that it would never happen.
So, here I was, at my job, admiring Raven jumping from floor to chair and chair to table right in the middle of the conference room as if she was the owner herself.
My gut immediately turned into knots. My heart sank. I thought, “Oh my goodness, if that isn’t the cutest cat I have ever seen.”
I was reluctant to pet or get close to her.
Each morning I would tiptoe around her to get to my office and sit down.
One day, she became curious and started circling my chair like a shark around its prey, occasionally pawing at the leather on my seat cushion.
“Did she want my attention?” I thought.
My heart again fluttered, but I just ignored her and continued working.
On the drive home, I thought about my work, my day, and any noticeably happy moments in it.
Seeing Raven pawing at my seat cushion, presumably wanting me to hold her, was the only thing that stood out at the front of my mind.
Before getting home, I stopped by at a Target and purchased some allergy medication.
I said to myself “I can handle a few weeks of stuffy noses and watery eyes if it means I can finally feel like I have a pet!”
I knew it wasn't actually my cat, but I figured if I spend over eight hours a day at work, and Raven wants to spend some time with me, this could be a great opportunity.
What was I looking for? What did spending time with Raven mean to me?
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t really understand what she meant until a few months later.
The next day, I was all medicated and ready for some cat snuggles.
Sure enough, Raven started circling my chair again, and this time I picked her up and placed her on my lap.
She immediately started yanking the threads out of my jeans!
From that point on, I was hooked.
I bought her hand brushes, made a little cardboard box house, and even gave her one of my jackets that she liked pawing at for her to nap on.
Within no time at all, we developed a routine.
She would be outside my office door at 8:21am every morning (no joke)!
In fact, on the days when I was late to work, I would see her laying in front of my office doorway, scowling angrily, wondering where I was!
My coworkers and even Raven’s owner used to joke about how attached we got!
Day after day, month after month, cat nap after cat nap, until one day I came into the office, and at 8:21am, there was no sign of Raven.
I asked around if anyone had seen her.
It turns out that she was hiding in the corner, quietly moaning.
Occasionally, she would limp out to walk around, but she wouldn’t digest any food.
My heart sank again. This time, it was the feeling of helplessness.
The next day, Raven had passed away.
There was a serious and very rapid medical complication.
When the owner came back from the veterinary hospital in tears, I froze.
I had no idea how to emotionally process what had just happened.
It was so fast. One morning, Raven was laying down across my table playfully blocking my computer screen, and the next morning, she was gone.
I felt numb during the entire rest of the day at work.
As soon as I packed up and sat in my car to drive home, I cracked.
Tears poured out of my eyes.
And I thought to myself “Raven was the best thing, the thing that I looked forward to seeing every morning coming into work.”
That night, I reflected upon what Raven meant to me.
Maybe she was a way that I could fulfill a childhood dream of having a pet.
But maybe it was something deeper.
You see, Raven showed affection toward me. She lit up when I came into the office. She wanted me there. She wanted me to show affection toward her.
That sort of tenderness and simplicity seemed to fill a space in my heart that I never knew I needed.
As I reflected on Raven, I put together a collage of some of the photos we took together.
That helped. A lot.
Losing Raven taught me many lessons about the purity and beauty of love and affection, but, above all, she taught me that life is very short and I want to fill it with as much love, connection, tenderness, and vulnerability as I possibly can.
There won’t be another Raven.
But as long as I live out the values that Raven taught me, I’ll always have her.