For Bear, Roman, Gracie, and all the others, gone too soon.
It is in our nature as humans to dismiss death until it stands up and hits us in the face. Yet there is no escaping it. These past few weeks have brought such an end to three beloved cats who held unique places in their humans’ lives. A blogger, a friend, and a family member—their stories are different, but the end result is the same. They are bereft, overcome with grief and loss.
So what now? What do we do when we wake up in the morning and go to bed at night with our hearts aching for that one special cat who is no longer purring beside us? There is no getting around the hurt. There is no replacing the one who has gone. We are left to deal with a new, smaller life. But how?
Create something. Make something in memorial to your cat. I crochet. Sometimes it’s just a square, and others, it turns into a complete memorial blanket in the colors of the cat. Black, blue, brown, and silver for my beloved Tinkerbelle; Yellow and rust red for Big Red. Each time I warm myself under that blanket, I think of them.
A painting or coloring project, a collage or photographic tribute such as a cup or plate, a poem or story—these are just a few of the creative options for tangibly expressing our love and loss.
Positive impact: Doing creative projects utilizes a different part of the brain, allowing a healthy, healing flow of energy that helps us to let go.
Meditate: Meditation can be as simple as concentrating on one’s breaths, or as complex as creating a setting and a ritual to carry it out. Making a place dedicated to our cat can be helpful. A candle, a vase of catnip, a favorite toy, a collar—anything that focuses our love on positive memories, the ones before the pain.
Positive impact: Meditation and controlled breathing are proven to be beneficial to both body and mind.
Physical activity: Run, walk, dance, work in the garden—whatever our personal favorite exercise might be. It should be something we love and don’t view as a chore. Nothing can diminish our grief, but the more energy we expend physically, the more that grief becomes right-sized.
Positive impact: The action of exercise works to unlock us, not just in a physical sense, but mentally as well. Doing something we love makes it even more beneficial.
Two beautiful products from independent artists.
Whisker Tributes, by Volana Kote
Handmade custom jewelry from real fallen whiskers. All designs can be customized with your own pet’s whiskers, too! ^..^
In the sick days before Blaze crossed Beyond, he was confined to his bed. One day I found a single white whisker that he had dropped there. I’d heard of Volana Kote and the beautiful jewelry she made using cat whiskers, so I looked her up. I was so disappointed when I read that she needed three to four whiskers to make a pendant—I only had the one. But I didn’t give up. I contacted her and told her my story. She was happy to oblige and helped me pick a pendant that would work. She offers many sizes and background colors, and her work is both unique and understatedly stunning.
Memorial Votive, by Bernadette
Custom Pet Memorial Votives using images you provide. During the day your votive captures ambient light even without the candle, but in the evening, when the candle is lit, the flickering light through your pet’s face in a darkened area is warm and intimate.
I have not yet purchased one of these votives, but I know Bernadette’s work as she is a fellow member of the Cat Writers’ Association. She consistently wins awards for her art, and her work with cat rescue is a reward in itself.
*I received no compensations from either Volana Kote or Bernadette for including their products in my blogpost.
To all of you who have ever lost a cat (or other beloved companion) I grieve with you. However we choose to express our grief is up to us. There is no wrong way as long as we do it with love.
We always do a commemorative post. It is good to look back to see all the wonder of our friends lives and know it is not lost, just changed, and now dearer than ever
The loss is never, ever easy but we sure wouldn’t trade the memories.
Excellent advice. You gave me a few ideas – thank you!
Thank you. That means so much to me.
Mollie, I loved this post! Your beautifully written recommendations on how to handle grief are all excellent. I’ve been through it so many times, like many of us, but it is always hard! Years ago, when my first kitty, Frankie passed I had a memorial service at my home with all my dear friends and we drank champagne and did a heartfelt toast to Frankie, then I created a photo collage, which was so enjoyable to do and cathartic.
A beautiful memory.