When a pet dies, it can feel like losing a friend. Here are five ways to cope with the grief. Max went missing on my birthday. One minute he was begging for breakfast and the next minute he was gone, out a door accidently left ajar.
What does your heart do to heal when the friend you lost was packaged in fur and sported a tail? If you are a pet owner, you know in your head that your pet's life will probably be shorter than yours, yet the magnitude of their loss can be overwhelming. If your heart is filled with sadness from such a loss, here are five ways to find comfort and give you back some peace of mind.
1. The magnitude of your loss becomes real. In my case, Max was a wild, orange rebel given to biting and leaping onto my indoor hanging baskets to flatten the flowers and swing for the hell of it. The only way I could brush him was to feed him the tail of his catnip mouse as a distraction and brush fast.
There is no good reason why I loved him so much. I just did. When he went missing, I was inconsolable. My heart knew this loss was a big one. You will know too, if well-meaning friends try to brush away your tears by saying, "He was just a cat. You can get another one," and you do not accept their words. He was your friend and you know that he cannot be replaced.
Also Read: How A Cat Showed Me What A Great Dad My Husband Would Be
2. Make peace with your part in the loss. Max slipped out of a door I left open. I did not mean to let him out and maybe he would have used better judgment if he knew the dangers waiting for him. My heart was overwhelmed with guilt, and guilt is an abusive mate that needs to be released. Max died from an awful accident and I could be more vigilant in the future. My cats now love to be outside with me in our vegetable garden, fenced to keep Bambi and Peter Rabbit out. They are safe and I do not have to feel guilty any more.
Also Read: 10 Celebrities Who Are In Love With Their Pets
3. Your heart needs to talk of love. I wrote Max a love letter and read it out loud by his favorite swinging plant. I told him all the things I loved about him and said that I hoped he was all right. I thanked him for being my friend and for teaching me patience. It felt great to let out what I was feeling. Today that letter and his catnip mouse are safe in my box of precious treasures.
4. Make a place for your memories so they are not forgotten. This part of your healing has some mystery about it. The right way to honor Max took months to make itself known. On one of those spur of moment drives, I ended up on Whidbey Island, one of Washington's most beautiful Gulf Islands. Curiosity drew me into a small plant nursery. Along the walkway of the nursury there sat five small rhododendron plants in black plastic containers and they were named "Max Cat." The Max Cat rhodendron has beautiful flowers and my heart is happy every time I see the blooms because one came home with me.
Also Read: 9 Types Of Pets & What They Say About A Man
5. Time heals everything. Take all the time you need. Again, some eager friends wanted me to rush right out and get another cat but I needed to wait. The wait was worth it when a beautiful black and white Norwegian Forest Cat named Humphrey Bogart, affectionately called Bogey, joined our family. He was not Max and that was fine. He was filled with love and his purrs were a happy comfort to my welcoming heart.
Breathe in the power you have to move forward after even the most difficult challenges. You can start living again. Make this ending real and you will be free to experience the happiness you deserve.
Written by Ruthann Reim McCaffree for YourTango.com.
More From YourTango.com: