Monday, May 20, 2013

6 months later...


No one really acknowledges the long-term anguish that can come when you lose a furry loved one.  The fact that 6 months has already passed astonishes me since it feels like yesterday that Roy was with me.  It also feels like I haven’t been able to hold him for eternity.  The emotional toll of not having Roy fill my life is always unraveling and I still cannot talk about him without crying.  Even writing this is an incredible challenge.

When Roy first died, I was in shock and had trouble fully comprehending he was gone.  Immediately after, my other cat Loki was diagnosed with early stage kidney disease and then I was leaving for Florida for an internship.  I was leaving everything that reminded me of Roy behind, except for the small tin that contained his ashes.  They came along for the ride.

In Florida, I was also pretty busy, but mostly the lack of privacy stopped me from really processing my loss further.  I was sharing a 2-bedroom apartment with 5 others and there was no time to myself.  Although there were times I would cry in my car, or alone on the beach, I mostly kept the emotions hidden inside me.

One my 3-week road trip home, I was too distracted by the beauty of nature and the intrigue of new areas.   I was living in an amazing time where I felt truly alive and experiencing the world in a new way.  I was having too much personal growth to allow sorrow to interfere.

If Roy was not on my shoulder, he was sitting on my side like a Koala Bear.  So cute!

But then I got home.  The empty apartment was just a reminder of what was missing- Roy’s meows and cuddles and mischief.  Every time I went to the grocery store and saw corn I was holding back tears (and it’s corn season).  I was alone and not distracted and it felt awful.  

I really miss him.  And thinking back, I can’t help to question if I ended his life too soon.  I need to constantly look through photos of his life towards the end to remind myself that he was in pain.  Roy’s last day was a good one, which is many ways is great.  It’s better to go out on a positive note, right?  But that is also where the questioning comes in, because there is no clear answer to when the time is right.  If there is no questioning, you probably waited too long.  I read somewhere that looking back on the decision of euthanasia, no one ever says they did it too early, just too late.  Unfortunately that is not always true.

The other day marked 6 months since I lost Roy.  The reality of it all hit me hard and hasn’t left.  I am trying to remember to celebrate the life I had with him, and re-read this blog post about him and am watching my videos of him eating corn. There is no getting over this- just moving on and remembering his spirit.  I am sure years from now I will still laugh at his antics and cry from missing him.  I am sure I will always wonder if my decision was a good one, but that is the unbearable consequence about being responsible for another’s life and loving them so completely.

I wanted to write about this so others going through such loss can know that it completely normal.  Many of my friends recently lost animals and are struggling to move on.  It is also important for family and friends to support those who animal died, including weeks and months past the immediate loss. So often people suffer in silence with their loss, and it is difficult when people don’t recognize the pain that can continue.  Usually this loss hits weeks to months later, when most people would not think about asking if you are okay.  I don’t know all the answers since I am still trying to figure out how to move past the heavy feelings of loss to simply celebrating my time with Roy, but I am appreciative of the few people in my life that have been supportive and understanding.  

Roy' paw prints, taken a few months before he died.  I plan to get a version of this tattooed on my left shoulder blade- where he would often have his paws while cuddling on my shoulder.


krissy said...

A nice tribute to Roy. It's good you have video of him. I know it's hard. I still miss Madison after almost ten years. <3

Chelsea said...

Thanks Krissy! I can't believe its been so long since Madison passed away. We have had such amazing little animals in our lives!

Joni Newman said...

You have no idea how close to home this is hitting me right now. My little man, Michael, is just about 18 years old, and I think today may be the last day we have together. And I am struggling with knowing if it is the right time. This is also a good day for him. He's always been an indoor cat, so today we have spent a lot of time out in the grass. Thanks for sharing your feelings with us, it helps us to feel not so alone.
Much love,

Chelsea said...

I am so sorry you are going through that Joni! The decision is impossible but I hope you find comfort in spending time with him today. Feel free to reach out if you need ANY support!