How do I deal with the loss of my cat? How to get over the grief of losing a cat? I’m afraid there isn’t a simple one-size fits all answer to these questions. Some days will be harder than others. Some cats will take longer than others. We all grieve differently and each cat loss will be different. The bound with your cat is as completely unique as they are so each cat loss journey will be completely unique too.
Is it normal to grieve for a cat?
When we lost April, our British Shorthair, the shock was huge, devastating and took me a long time to recover from. You can read my story here, I find that sharing stories really helps, but some people don’t, and that is okay. But I can reassure you that having spent the last 10 years speaking to customers on the phone cat grief is incredibly normal. For me the problems arise when we try to suppress those feelings of loss. Pent up grief can pop up in very odd places in our lives.
Grief is like a hole in the ground, it doesn’t disappear you just learn how to walk around it without falling in every time.
Cat loss grief stages
I think a lot of the work around grief stages is helpful, it is useful to know that denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all part of the mix. What I don’t find helpful is that it can make people feel that their bereavement journey will be a straight path where one stage naturally follows another. I think grief is much more complicated than that. You can pass through all 5 Kubler-Ross stages in an afternoon. Grief will depend on the time of day, the relationship with your animal, your age, your stress levels, your hormones….the list is endless.
Permission to grieve
In my experience I think that there are two key factors that are missing from this model of grief that are actually quite powerful in your pet loss journey. Firstly it is permission to grieve. Some people don’t get it. That is fine, if they have never had that bond then we cannot be cross with them. Hopefully at some point in their life they will have a relationship with an animal that brings them that joy. But their opinion shouldn’t stop you from allowing yourself to grieve. If you need permission to grieve I give it to you now.
Physiological Impact of Grief
I think grief can be like a sledgehammer to our bodies. There is a lot of focus on the emotional side of grief – quite rightly. But there is much we can do to soften the blow of grief by taking care of ourselves. It may be the very last thing that you want to do when you are suffering from loss but it is the most important thing to do. You must get outside and get some fresh air. Staying cooped up inside will make you feel worse. Being outside, especially somewhere with trees, open space or water will help to nurture you. A good hot bath before you go to bed will improve your sleep making tomorrow easier to handle. Making sure that you eat well, even if you have lost your appetite will fend off some of the despair.
What to say when a friend loses a cat
The best thing you can say when someone loses a cat will depend on your friend, some people will want to talk and others won’t until they’re ready. But you can always offer to listen to how they are feeling or ask them to share their favourite stories about their cat. Letting them know that you are there for them will be a huge benefit. Being there for them whilst they navigate their cat bereavement journey will be the kindest thing you can do as a friend.
Pet Bereavement Guide
That is why I write about practical things you can do to look after yourself whilst you travel this difficult journey. It won’t bring them back. It’s not a magic wand that will stop the hurt. But by taking care of yourself you will walk this road with a little more ease and be strong enough to face the twists and turns that you will need to navigate.
To see more articles about coping with the loss of your pet go here.
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