by Karin Baltzell, Ph.d
It is soon the second year after the loss of my cat. She was my baby and my only real friend. The death was awful and I was suicidal and depressed in spite of therapy and the comforting cliches we all tend to use when death intrudes. I know I will not be able to ever have another cat—I was happy with the one I had and my disability limits me (mostly the lack of income and mobility). I write her letters and have filled six journals. I am unable to enjoy life like I used to and am totally stagnant. I’ve suffered many horrible losses in my 42 years on Earth and don’t look forward to facing any more, save, mine own. I know I’ll lose it on the 2-year date, which is also my Dad’s birthday. Do you have any advise to help me cope?
Of course, we are so sorry for your loss, and your continued grieving. Yes, it is very hard to hear platitudes, and cliches, when we are looking for someone to totally understand us and say just the “right thing”. There is nothing that we could hope for more than some of the following suggestions might be of some consolation or help:
1. Contact your therapist if you are no longer seeing him/her and have a touch-up appointment during this anniversary time.
2. Have you joined the on-line support groups on Beyond Indigo?? Perhaps the Buddy Chat???
3. Try not to be alone on the anniversary date of the deaths of your kitty and your father. Be gone from your residence, if possible, or invite a friend of neighbor in to be with you.
4. Talk about your loss to someone that you trust. Yes, you’ve done that before, but you have suffered so many losses, it might take you an extra special long time to process all the feelings and hurt inside.
5. Keep journaling. However, you might change the focus of your writing to “What if?” What if I got a new cat, how would I manage that? What if I could find someone to share a pet with (and the cost), say a friend, or a neighbor, or another lonely grieving person? What if I could change the future for myself, what would it look like? Can you see how this can get you to start a new cycle of thinking???
6. Contact a Humane Society, or Social Services agency and see if they have therapy pets that can come and visit you. That way, you don’t own the pet (and don’t have to worry about the loss, yet again).
7.Consider the possibility of getting a new kitty. Just “consider it”. Try on the idea. Live with the thought again. It would seem that what is holding you back from lots of love, and comfort, is your fear of suffering loss again. Yet, without risking love again, you suffer loss EVERY single day, over and over.
We wish you the best of luck getting through your anniversary, and encourage you to Hang On, and you will make it through to the other side of your painful time.