If you have been following my blog then you know I was a cat mom to two precious furballs named Dusty and Precious. I often talk about Dusty as she is the most recent loss I have experienced to date. I’m doing okay and manage day-to-day however I must share with you some of the reactions I received from people after the death of my cat. I’m thankful to have had supportive family and friends during this time and am so grateful. However, it was during the early stages of the grieving process that I also encountered people telling me the most random things that, to me, came off as quite insensitive.
I only share this as a lesson I learned in healing after pet loss and as a cautionary tale as to what you yourself may encounter or experience after losing a pet. So in no particular order, here are 5 things I heard after grieving the loss of my pet.
SO WHEN ARE YOU GETTING ANOTHER PET?
I remember hearing this from a coworker within one week after losing Dusty. My gut reaction, in my head was to give this person an RKO like Randy Orton from WWE, but no I held my composure together and just responded with “Eventually, it’s too soon now”. I feel like this question is completely out of line; not because of the words but because of the timing.
If you asked me several months or even a year or two later, I could understand however, asking me that question under one week after losing my cat I had for almost 14 years was insensitive. To me, that statement came off as if to say, a cat can be equated to a pair of socks or something completely replaceable you find in the store. Just go get another. No. I would never say that to a grieving mother who lost her child and I would never say that to a grieving pet parent.
IT WAS JUST AN ANIMAL DOG/CAT/ETC?
So for someone to suggest to you “She was just a cat,” is extremely rude. For one to say such things shows me they either 1) Don’t own a pet and 2) If they do own a pet, they don’t put but so much value or meaning on their pet’s lives. Thirdly, I wonder if perhaps the person just never knew what it was like to lose a pet in their lifetime. Sometimes sheer ignorance of not knowing can make people say the craziest things.
In my opinion, as I’m sure many pet parents can agree, our pets are not just animals but family. I firmly believe all our fur babies are unique gifts from above with their own personality, heart, spirit and character. They dedicate and share their entire lives as family members and best friends in our life journey together. They are exceptional beings who display unconditional love like no other with every beat of their precious heart. That is not replaceable.
ARE YOU REALLY HAVING HER CREAMATED?
I wasn’t quite sure how to take this statement at first. On one hand I could understand if someone is a pet parent and is from the old school ways of taking your deceased pet home and burying him or her in the back yard with a headstone under a tree or something. However, times have changed and there are many different ways in which people choose to “dispose” or even memorialize their pet.
Aside from burial, cremation is an option. There are beautiful options for urns to put your beloved’s ashes in or even lockets with space to put ashes inside as well. You’d be surprised at all the different ways people choose to use ashes; from using seeds and ashes in a planter to keeping ashes in an urn, there are so many options.
Essentially, the point is, it is nobody’s business but mine how I choose to discard of the physical body. What is right for me may not be right for you. It’s my perogative, my pet and my choice in the manner I choose to honor her memory. The choice of a pet parent to use cremation or not is a personal choice and a boundary that should not be overstepped.
SHE/HE WAS OLD ANYWAY.
This comment just blows my mind. Yes, I quite understand that cats and dogs, as well as other animal species, don’t have a life span of 78 human years however that doesn’t make their lives any less significant. That fact does not lessen the heartbreak.
To use a dramatic example, you would never say to a grieving child who lost a parent, “Well they were old anyway. It was their time”. Seriously? Where is your compassion? So they were older and what? That doesn’t make the pain of grieving and their memory any less. Yes, we understand nobody lives forever, but the pain of grief remains the same. The heartache is real and the love shared between a pet and his owner is great. That should be honored and respected, not trivialized because the life expectancy is significantly shorter.
YOU HAVEN’T MOVED ON YET?
Newsflash. There is no time limit on grieving. Everyone is different. Some people are able to properly grieve and move on to adopting another pet in 3 months, whereas other people take longer. And that’s okay.
However, what is not okay is to judge and force your opinion of what is an adequate time to grieve on me or anyone else. What works for you, doesn’t have to work for me the same way. There are stages of grief and the processing of grief takes time. That amount of time varies person to person. So, it is foolish to assume and imply someone should “Get over it” on a quick time-table to suit your comfort level.
Have some respect for the person’s situation and experience they are dealing with. Time does heal however there is no designated end point for grief. It’s a continual process with ups and downs, just like the challenges of life. What a grieving pet parent would rather hear is comforting words of support not criticism.
So those are just 5 things I have heard after the loss of my pet. Have you encountered any of these same experiences? Comment and share your thoughts below.
Did you like this post? Be sure to check out my other guest post for CPC Cares 5 Tips to comfort a grieving pet parent and 10 Things to Avoid