There is nothing worse than losing someone you care for deeply.
Be it through a painful break-up, divorce or the worst of all – because they leave this earthly plane all too soon.
It overwhelms you, engulfs you and numbs you to the rest of the world. For a while, time seems to stand still. Food loses its appeal. And life has lost all meaning. Your head is haunted with the question ‘why’. Meanwhile, your anger is doing its best to shield you from that infinite sadness and emptiness within.
Lean On Me
What gets us through such heartache is time.
Time and love.
Time to grieve, with loved ones who are still there, who share your misery, feel your pain and are there for you. And all too often, it is our 4-legged friends especially, that are there for us day in day out. Without judgement, they support us during this difficult time.
But what about those that are equally affected by the tragedy?
What if the the loved one you lost in your life was a loved one for your 4-legged friend as well?
It’s something we don’t always consider because they’re…well, another species. And truth be told, our emotional state makes us too blind to notice – understandably so, given the situation.
Not to mention that everyone feels and processes loss differently. Cats, in particular, tend to look very pragmatic and stoic. As they’re not pack animals, they cannot afford to look or act weak.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not affected by it, on the inside.
And while we often do share our pain with our 4-legged creatures, just as often, we don’t. We’re so in the thick of it, that we forget that sharing our pain with them could just be what both of us need.
For that matter, our fear of losing another loved one could cause us to distance ourselves from our pets. Which leaves us blind to their needs in all this.
And so, we shut them out and turn a blind eye.
We effectively isolate ourselves – and them – in our grief.
Losing someone often also comes with a bunch of adjustments.
Suddenly, you have to fill that void that you used to spend with that beloved person.
You find yourself sorting through their stuff and missing the activities you used to share. Maybe you even need to get a job with different hours now that you are supporting a household all on your own.
The point is, major changes often accompany such a loss.
And with major changes comes stress – for both the human and the cat. Adjusting to new routines until you get them down, changes in territory, triggers of anxiety and loss, you name it.
And while cats are a big fan of routine and predictability, they are less so of big changes in their lives. They like things stable. Much like most of us, really – with just a pinch of controllable excitement to spice up life. Right?
While your furry companion will do their absolute best to cope with everything that is going on, it may just prove to be too much.
Depending on the level of devotion to the lost person, the level of territorial anxiety due to the many changes that are going on and the personality your kitty has, the traumas in their past…they may just not know how to cope.
Or, for that matter, the coping mechanisms they choose to desperately make themselves feel better may just make you resent them for causing more problems at such a difficult time.
Don’t let yourself fall into this trap – you and your kitty need to stick together in these difficult times.
Problems that may arise range from litter box issues (territorial anxiety), vocalisation throughout the night, hiding under cupboards to even aggression due to insecurity issues. Much like you’ll feel less stable emotionally, your kitty is not immune to this stuff, either.
And ironically, what they need is pretty close to what you yourself probably could benefit from.
Coping The Best You Can
What your kitty – and you, for that matter- craves most, besides time to heal, is stability.
While you may have to make some changes, see if you can spread them out. Change one thing at a time. Also, try to keep everything that is still the same very much the same, as to not overwhelm either of you.
That means breakfast at the same time, as well as dinner. Litter boxes get scooped out and you still clean your apartment. Take a page from your kitty’s playbook and don’t neglect your grooming, either. If a bunch of changes are inevitable, see if you can structure and parse them – for both your sake’s. That way, you won’t get slammed by everything at once.
While it is perfectly natural to lose your grip on your life for a bit when you get dealt such a blow, it is important to keep your life going. Of course, you can ease up on your routine and stick to the pure essentials. But do stick to those essentials – for both your own sanity and your cat’s. You’ll eventually find comfort in them as it will give you a reason to get out of the bed in the morning when nothing else seems to.
Coming Together In This Difficult Time
As you adjust and make the necessary changes you need to make to your life to go on, you may just find yourself adding new routines.
Routines such as making time to play with your kitty or a snuggle session in the morning – a very good way to relieve stress for both of you. Whatever the both of you need, take the time to figure it out and address it.
See if you can also add some extra treats to indulge both of you and reconnect a bit.
Think ice-cream for you, and catnip for yours truly. A new puzzle toy with snacks for the fur ball and a new dress or suit for you. Feliway to keep furry night terrors away, and a radio in the bedroom for you to fill the house with a bit of liveliness for when you go to sleep – just for a little while.
Make life great again – starting with the little things that can lift both of your spirits.
If you’re not quite sure where or how to start, you may find some additional ideas in my First-Aid Kit For Cat Guardians. You can download it for free if you join our email list!
It contains everything you need to optimise your lives together.