Nobody knows what the “right” timeline is for grief, and that’s because there isn’t one. Grief just takes time,
and we can’t predict how long it will last. All my husband and I know is that we miss Cabot, we
think about him all the time, and we still cry when we talk about him. And his brother (Mr. Wigglesworth)
misses him too. I firmly believe that cats also experience grief. Mr. Wigglesworth has lost weight; he’s lethargic, clingy and whiny; he’s even taken on personality characteristics of his missing brother. We’re giving him as much love as we can.
The agonizing experience of losing Cabot has highlighted the irreplaceable role he played in our lives. Pets are family members, children, loved ones, comforters. You may remember your own experience losing a pet, or maybe you can imagine just how hard it may have been for somebody you know when their pet passed away. Either way, I wanted to share my experience because it’s happened, or will happen, to most of us (or to people we know), and the feelings we have (no matter what they are) are exactly right. My grief was right for me; your grief will be, or was, right for you. We “should” feel precisely what we ARE feeling, and I encourage anybody going through it to have compassion on themselves, and allow themselves time to heal in whatever way they need.
At Cabot Psychological Services, we have a team of trained professionals who can assist you with your mental health needs. Whatever the issue, we can provide you with treatment options. Call or text 952-831-2000, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our Contact form.
Dr. Amanda Mulfinger is the Owner and President of Cabot Psychological Services in Edina, Minnesota. She studied psychology at Harvard University prior to receiving her master's degree and PhD from Auburn University.
Three weeks ago, my husband and I went through an experience that we were under-prepared for, but anticipate having to re-visit someday; I don’t know when. Our 13-year-old kitty, Cabot (yes, same name as my practice—they share a namesake) was suddenly diagnosed with kidney failure and died within three days. It was a terrible week. My despair when I heard the initial prognosis (less than a year to live) deepened when the timeline became weeks, and became an abyss when they told us on Wednesday that we could anticipate only a matter of days with him.
We brought Cabot home from the University of Minnesota Small Animal Hospital (where he received wonderful, compassionate care) on Wednesday after lunch, and spent the afternoon outside with him. He developed a spark of energy, and actually explored our yard and our neighbor’s (something he wasn’t allowed to do when healthy—he was an indoor kitty). Our neighbors, who loved him also, visited and were able to say goodbye. That evening, Cabbie’s grandpa (my dad) came by and found him pretty sedated (that is, totally sacked out) from his pain meds, rotating from my lap to my husband’s. We knew our time was short, but were still stupefied when we recognized that he was ready to go on Thursday morning. Cabot died peacefully on my lap right around noon on Thursday.
I’m choosing to share this heart wrenching experience because I think it’s something we don’t talk about often enough. The passing of a pet brings grief, pure and simple. I experienced denial throughout his entire (brief) illness (“Oh, I’m sure when I get to the clinic they’ll tell me it’s fixable—he’ll be fine.”), anger (“This isn’t fair—he’s still so young!”), guilt (“Why didn’t we catch it sooner?”), and ultimately, depression, which is ongoing.