Lost in grief and consumed with guilt...

JjkjJjkj Member Posts: 5
Hello all, I've written you all a book. If you're not big on reading you may want to stop now. Only 36 hours ago I had Flo put to sleep. She was young, only 4, and we only had 3-1/2 years together. I'm devastated. Although I know it's not the case, I feel like I'm the only person that's ever gone through this. A part of me died yesterday and I'm at a loss to cope. I'm hoping kind words and advice from non-friends / family members may help. Some history: Somehow I made it to 40 without ever experiencing death, the loss of a person or pet with whom I was close and responsible for. Yes, I've had grandparents and extended family die, and family pets... but no relationships were close and the losses didn't have the same hurt or effect on my life and world. To make things even harder I live alone. No children, currently single (and TOTALLY okay with that thanks to my last girlfriend), no roommates or other pets. This has been the case the entire 3-1/2 years Flo and I were together. I thought my life was full before I had Flo. I was wrong. The honest truth is I didn't even want a pet... I took Flo in as a stray because my parents found her when she was 6 months old and they wouldn't have been able to keep her. That said, I was reluctant. That changed, and I'm a better person for having known Flo. Fast forward to 3 months ago. She started stepping lightly (limping) on a rear leg for short random spells. Nothing in her paws, no tender spots, and she was still happy and playful during the episodes. Vet visits yielded nothing. A vet neurologist told me she may be having seizures. I was dismissed and told to put her on a seizure med. I didn't do it, I wanted another opinion. Fast forward 5 days. We went to bed business as usual and I woke up to 15-20 vomit spots around the house. We took it easy that day but by the next day she was no better. Unable to keep even water down. Off to the vet we went. They gave her a hydrating pouch and some anti-nausea meds. Two days later she was keeping some food and water down, but just as much would come back up. We headed to the vet again. They told me she likely had a blockage although x-rays showed nothing. They said a CT scan may, but the remedy would be surgery. At this point I was already $1500 into it. They gave her anti-nausea pills and told me to take her home... that I'd know "when it was time". I couldn't accept that. Over four days I fed her teaspoonfuls of food at a time and waited patiently just hoping she would start having the urge to use her box... that'd I'd have proof her systems were functioning. It worked. Unfortunately she had started to develop sores on the outside of her mouth during all this. The vet and I initially thought it was irritation from vomiting. Fast forward another few days. The sores had moved to her chin and it was becoming raw. We headed to the vet again and got her on an antibiotic and a long-acting steroid shot. Over the course of days she began to heal a bit. Didn't last though. As the rawness began to spread I took her back and was given a steroid cream. She itched it less, but it wasn't healing and it was growing in size and looking worse. Fast forward 10 days (just over a week ago). We went to a new vet. I got her on another round of antibiotics and continued the steroid use. They started her on a new diet as well. I held out hope. Unfortunately my hope didn't make a lick of difference. The sores worsened. Her entire neck down to her chest was raw, open and oozing, or scabbed. Three days ago it got worse still. While I knew it was an irritant for her this whole time, now I could see it was truly painful. There were tiny blood droplets and bits of scab everywhere. She couldn't get enough of me... being around me. She didn't want to be touched though which made it heart-wrenching. That night I made the decision. Flo had gone through enough and was getting worse. $2500 had yielded no answers and I thought I owed it to her to permanently ease her pain. Yesterday I fed her whatever the hell she wanted. I hugged her when I could. We looked at birds and squirrels out the windows. Then I loaded her into the carrier for our final trip. I don't know what I was expecting. If I thought I'd have sense of relief afterwards or what. Whatever I was hoping for didn't come. I'm ill-equipped for this. Strangely, the permanence of death didn't occur to me right away. But as I watched her eyes turn from fear of the vet into wide-eyed emptiness and lifelessness... a part of me died with her. I've never seen the life drain out of a being. To see life cease. Knowing that I'm responsible for this, that she trusted me on our last day and I betrayed her with a vet trip ending with her death is unbearable. I can't forget her eyes. Wide open. The animal I knew and loved was gone and it was I who allowed this to happen to her. The man I thought I was, is apparently just a boy. I've cried so much the last 36 hours. I'm spent. Yet I still cry. I cry because I miss her. I cry because I feel bad for myself. I cry because I feel guilty that giving my signature on two pages allowed this to happen to her. I cry because at 40 I'm unable to grasp the permanence of death. I cry because I can't forget her eyes as she died. I don't know how to move on. As I said 17 pages ago, I live alone with no spouse, girlfriend, roommates, children or other pets. In that environment a pet takes on a different role. For a man that didn't even want a cat, I spent my home time focusing on her and began to love it. Giving her constant attention and affection. Singing nonsense songs and rhymes as she stared at the idiot in front of her. We were always in one another's face. Always a conversation of sorts. It was Flo and I against the world. I realize saying that makes me sound somewhere between lonely and insane, but truth be told I was neither. I had a full life at home and a full life (with actual people) outside of home. Two days later I'm lonely and I question my sanity as it relates to guilt and inconsolable grief. How do I move on someday? Everything in this house and all of my daily rituals included Flo to some degree. She was in my face and I in hers. I can't handle being in this home. I've spent as much time doing projects outdoors as I can. Her food is still in the fridge and bowls. Her litter box still as she left it. Her scabs and bits of fur and blood are still in my master bath sink where she laid that last morning and I haven't cleaned it... I've resorted to using the main bath instead. I feel as if I'm cleaning her out of my life by cleaning up. Am I a hoarder or a slob? No, if anything I'm clean and organized to a fault. Friends and family said just before this, as I spoke of euthanizing her, that someday I'd be ready to open up to another cat. I couldn't imagine doing that. 36 hours into it they see how my world has been turned upside down in this household and they suggest I get another cat much sooner than later. How? How do I do that? Is it not betrayal to Flo's memory that people are talking about a new cat before I even have her ashes returned? How do you open your heart to another animal when I piece of me died with the last one? I'm lost.

Comments

  • JjkjJjkj Member Posts: 5
    edited 6 August, 2014
    I wanted to post a pic of Flo for anyone that's curious who's behind my insanity... but after 20 minutes of using every photo size reducer app I can find, I get a message that says "Dang we can't read your file" when I try to upload. That said, I've given up for now. Too bad, I have some awesome pics of the late Flo. Any ideas?
  • SterlingAndTheSTeamSterlingAndTheSTeam Mount OliveMember Posts: 41,262 ✭✭✭
    edited 13 August, 2014
    Right now the Catster forums are undergoing a huge revamping, so much of what is available actually isn't. Many members are having a hard time getting into Catster and the forums. So please do not believe that our members are not answering your post -- most of them may not be able to see it. I've had to part with my cats ... my dogs ... even my horse ... and it never gets easier. We feel so bad because we feel guilt when we think we have betrayed them when the time comes to help them to the Rainbow Bridge. Do not feel that way. You did everything you could to help Flo, and she understood that. Her being close to you those last few days were her way of telling you good bye and that it was OK for you to help her over. Once Catster is up and running properly (which may be some time yet), you can create a page for Flo, complete with diaries, so we can see what a beautiful girl she is. She will always be with you, in your heart. As for people telling you to get another cat ... in time you may want to. Maybe another kitty will come along, just like Flo did; and you will know the time is right. You will never "replace" Flo. It's possible you will find another place in your heart for another. Only time will tell. I sincerely believe that Flo is at the Rainbow Bridge and watching over you -- until we all meet again. Purrs and Love, Athena |:||:|
  • Sally WaldronSally Waldron Member Posts: 1,255 ✭✭
    edited 8 August, 2014
    I am so sorry for your loss and what you and Flo went through. You have to always remember, even though it is hard at times, to remember that you did all that you could for her and she understood that. I have always felt terrible when it was time to ease one of my furbabies to the other side to be free of pain, and play over and over again what if anything that I could have done to make them better. When I lost my Fuzzy cat I felt my world crash around me and felt such a loss that I never thought another could fill his spot. Two weeks after he passed I was surfing our local animal shelter, and I came across a picture of a kitten that reminded me so much of Fuzzy that I paused to take a longer look. His eyes seemed to leap from the page to me, as if to say," I am here to help you ease your pain." I went down the next day and adopted my Sonnyboy, who I honestly was sent to me by Fuzzy. When the time is right you will know, and it may never happen, but when it does you never forget the ones before them, they always will have a special place in your heart.
  • Shelley CoxShelley Cox CarbondaleMember Posts: 2,752
    edited 11 August, 2014
    This is Delyte. Today is my Gotcha day, 19 years since my person found me in a parking lot on the university campus. But it is also 13 months since she had to have me put to sleep because of several agonizing wasting illnesses. Despite my weakness, I fought the doctor and the drug and my death was a horrible experience for everyone, even the experienced vet staff. My person still thinks it was the right thing to do as I could not go on, as your Flo couldn't have gone on, but it is the hardest thing she had ever had to do. [She is much older than you and has had to deal with death of parents, relatives, close friends and several other dear pets, and this was the worst.] She does have three other annoying other cats to console her and a dear boyfriend and other friends, but it has been so hard. There are a number of online and call in programs to help with your grief. Given your isolation, you should get in contact with someone soon. Is there an animal shelter around you where you could volunteer and relate to other animals right now, without making a commitment to getting a new companion? It will happen, you will find another animal that has the same emotional resonance that you had with Flo, but it will take a while. And youy need to have some support during that time. Rest assured that Flo is here on the Bridge with all of us and she misses you terribly too, but is so glad not to be in pain any more. As the others have said, she will send you another soul to be your companion again when the time is right. Giant purrs to you from all of us ... (^^
  • JjkjJjkj Member Posts: 5
    edited 12 August, 2014
    Thanks for all your kind words. I know everyone's gone through this (or will go through this) that's taken a pet into their life. Still hurts like hell even knowing others have been here. Separate from that though, I'm sorry for all your losses and envy your strength in plugging on with the day to day. It's been a week. I feel no better really. My friends have forced me to get out of bed and shower, their wives have made me meals and refuse to keep my blinds closed... basically I've got people who care which is good. It's still so empty though. I still look at pictures of Flo and remember her with sorrow. I hope to someday focus on the good things. I'm going out of town to see my fam for a couple days and I've promised my buddy's wife that yes, we can go to the animal shelter just to look and see how I feel. I already know I want to get out of it. Even on good days I've always hated going to the shelter... I'm the guy that would take home every old and disagreeable cat... all the ones I felt nobody else would adopt. Going there is rather depressing... and I'm not altogether sure how to fill Flo's void with another cat and yet not feel I'm somehow trying to replace an irreplaceable animal. I get that a new cat is simply that, a new family member... I just can't seem to separate that from doing a disservice to Flo's memory. Maybe in time. It's my understanding then that the website is having some issues. I'm glad those of you that could respond, did so. Means a lot. In related news I was finally able to upload pictures successfully today... didn't try anything new... they just finally took which is good. Unfortunately I can't figure out how to get Flo's little face to take the place of the generic "member since" cat. Anybody know how to do that.
  • Sally WaldronSally Waldron Member Posts: 1,255 ✭✭
    edited 12 August, 2014
    It will take time for everything to heal. Fuzzy passed 5 years ago and I still get sad when I see his picture. When I opened my own cat forum early this year it was the first time I ever posted about him and I was in tears when I wrote it. I think if you get if time and not feel pressured you will find another to fill your heart. I mean I love both of my boys I have now, but Fuzz will always have a special place in my heart.
  • Robin PinkhamRobin Pinkham BangorMember Posts: 1,601
    edited 12 August, 2014
    I am so sorry. Losing our Peanut was one of the hardest things ever. It has been eight years, and still I miss him.Still love him. He was very ill, his passing was the right thing. That does not make it hurt less. Time does heal though. I hope when you are ready you can let another cat into your life and eventually your heart. Not to take Flo's place, but as a legacy to the love and beauty she gave you. Take care of yourself
  • Robin PinkhamRobin Pinkham BangorMember Posts: 1,601
    edited 12 August, 2014
    I went and looked at the pictures of Flo. She was a beautiful cat.A beautiful soul.
  • SterlingAndTheSTeamSterlingAndTheSTeam Mount OliveMember Posts: 41,262 ✭✭✭
    edited 12 August, 2014
    We visited Flo's page. She is a pretty kitty. Her pictures all show on her page. It's another Catster glich. Try uploading that same picture again and it may "catch" and show in the forums. We sent you a friend request. (It will come through your email). We hope you will find some comfort in the following poem: MAY I GO NOW? Do you think the time is right? May I say goodbye to pain filled days and endless hopeless nights? I've lived my life and done my best, an example tried to be. So can I take that step beyond to set my spirit free? I didn't want to go at first, I fought with all my might. But something seems to draw me now to a warm and living Light. I want to go I really do, it's difficult to stay. But I will try as best I can to live just one more day. To give you time to care for me and share your love and fears I love you so, and that you know, because I see your tears. I'll not be far, I promise that, and hope you'll always know That my spirit will be close to you wherever you may go. Thank you for loving me, You know I love you too, That's why it's hard to say goodbye and "end" this life with you. So hold me now just one more time and let me hear you say, Because you care so much for me, you'll let me go today. ~author unknown~ |:||:||:|
  • JjkjJjkj Member Posts: 5
    edited 14 August, 2014
    Thanks for all the nice comments on Flo. She was truly incredible. And thanks for the poem too... as with everything else lately it made me cry. My god... I've cried more the last 10 days than I have the last 25 years. Again, I've gotten to be in my 40s never experiencing loss, so it's all a struggle to wrap my head around. How do you live with the big two? - 1. Missing her. Not having it hit you like a ton of bricks everytime you realize you won't see her again... The permanence of death. Just when I think I have a grasp it shocks me all over again. - 2. Guilt. In spite of what others say, I feel I had her "killed". I try to tell myself it was the right thing to do for her, but then I think of her being sick, and how the whole time she still wanted my attention, wanted to be near me. The honest truth is I can barely look myself in the mirror. Knowing that she trusted me our last day... she was getting treats and extra attention only to be shoved in a carrier against her will and taken away. Her eyes, seeing them as she was scared, looking betrayed... and then just staring blankly... lifeless. I'm having a really hard time with this one. If I find myself smiling at something during the day I'm overcome with guilt... almost like I'm afraid to be happy again. I just see those eyes and wonder if happiness is deserved. I realize Flo was a cat (and I'm not insane, honestly), she was just so human to me. So human I tend to but human emotions in her as I imagine what she must've been thinking as her last day came to an end. If only I could've explained to her what was going to happen if she couldn't get better. Or even asked her if she was ready... if it was "okay" to let her go. If she would've wanted this or if she would've wanted to stay. I know that's not possible, I get that, I'm just struggling so hard in wondering if this was the right choice. -
  • SterlingAndTheSTeamSterlingAndTheSTeam Mount OliveMember Posts: 41,262 ✭✭✭
    edited 15 August, 2014
    I sent you an invitation to one of the Catster support groups. The groups have links that you can go to that may help you through your grief. Also there's a website: rainbowbridge.com where every Monday night, 9 p.m. eastern time, there is a live chat room candle-lighting ceremony.
  • Arlye DruryArlye Drury DartmouthMember Posts: 826
    edited 19 August, 2014
    There are no words to make you feel better - only time will heal your heart and soul. Sending you healing thoughts, love, and hopes that you feel better soon. Huggs and Purrs. Purrcy (now an ANGEL) and his Mumma
  • Renee RyzRenee Ryz Member Posts: 2,164
    edited 19 August, 2014
    Athena that poem was lovely! I saw your post that first day, and I could not post a reply. I feel for you, I really do. And beleive me, as hard as it is to hurt so badly right now, the pain will slowly recede. I have felt guilt as you are feeling, and once I was able to really think about the quality of life my dog would have had if I did not release him, that is what helped. Imagining that pain, and that he could no longer stand up, and did not recognize us anymore -he stopped wagging his tail- those things made me realize I made the best choice. Does it still hurt? yes, but now I am able to think more fondly of the good fun times. One day, you will think less of the bad parts, and more of Flo's great life. There is no big solution, no timetable,no magic words to make it all go away - I surely wish there were. What there is though, people here that understand, that are here for support, to shed a tear with you. Those of us that have felt the loss, get it. Take it one day at a time. It sounds like you have some great friends that only want to help. The best thing is to let them in the ways you feel comfortable. One day, Flo may tap your shoulder & send you a cat that needs you. Only you & her will know the right time, if so. You gave her the ultimate gift of love - the release from pain. I recently saw a photo frame to honor a lost pet, and it says "Thanks for everything, I had a great time!" remember that is what Flo is thinking! We send you purrs & pawtaps to help heal your heart.|:| |:||:||:| The kitty quartet
  • Debra HoffmannDebra Hoffmann RidgewoodMember Posts: 1,174
    edited 12 October, 2014
    Dear Flo's daddy, I would like to take the time to reply to you personally, and hope you are still around to read this-as I know it's been difficult for many to get onto Catster. Ruffy's mom here, Your post hurt my heart. Firstly, it sounds like you really went through a great deal. Please know you did all you could for your beloved Flo. Sometimes, things happen that even very good vets have a time figuring out. Two, please understand that what you have gone through is very traumatic and sad. Flo was a young cat, who might have had things going on for awhile you weren't aware of. She might have had this going on when it wasn't evident, and you didn't see it becuase cats are so good at hiding things. That said, losing a cat, being with them during euthanasia is life changing. I'd like to share something with you. Last week, we had to do this for our beloved Ruffy. To tell you that Ruffy was old, very old doesn't matter. Ruffy was my husband's cat. He was, and remains a larger than life part of mine. I wasn't afraid, I was incredibly sad. I still am. But Ruffy had been very very ill for 3 weeks, deteriorating little by little. Age and an unknown illness crept up, taking more and more from him. The night we went to the vet, I asked if there was another miracle he could pull off. He told me, sadly, that he had tried everyhting. I got the diagnosis of full blown feline aids combined with advanced old age. We spent some time together, and our wonderful vet waited for my hsuband to get off work and come to us. In the meanwhile, Ruffy and I spent time together in a nice warm room, he on a comfortable blanket under a heat lamp, and me holding him. When he went, I had been afraid of how I'd feel, but I was ok. I could, it may sound strange to you-I felt Ruffy 'whoosh' up and out and I felt a part of me sad, and another of intense joy because Ruffy had left behind a body he couldn't use-but he was still Ruffy-and very much himself and alive-just not in the beloved form we had come to know. Its so sad to lose someone we love so, and it's harder when we have to be the ones to assist them to leave. But it's the most unselfish thing we can do, and love that begins with that knowing and trust is always laced with the 'what ifs'. I will tell you something-everything you did, you did with love. You were with your girl for her whole life, and that in itself is wonderful and a blessing. A few months ago, we lost a beloved foster kitten-and I felt terrible grief and anguish. What if I had seen it sooner, what if I had spent more money trying to save her, well, when I took in my next litter of kittens, I was terrified. But knock wood, they are ok. And my Bethany is...yes...too. I don't kwnow why she was here for such a short time, but maybe, it was for us to learn that love dances on in another form. Some gentle advice-don't keep it in. Cry, rage, and let it out-we who love those fey, gentle souls experience truly the divine-and touch perhaps all that is sacred with the purrs left in our hearts. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to talk more, and know that though Catster is still a bit out of sorts, we are all here for you. love and light, Ruffy's mom, Deb
  • Teri SextonTeri Sexton Member Posts: 7,987
    edited 18 October, 2014
    I just wanted to add a few things. First, you have come to the exact right place you need to be to heal. My family has been here since Catster's beginning and it changed my life, and it will probably do the same for you also. Not everyone who owns a cat, even one that they may have had for a decade, will experience the depth of emotional connection that you and Flo had. "Regular" friends and family members just don't get it. I don't know how anyone knows when it is time to consider choosing another cat...but your heart knows. Listen to it, and do not let anyone rush you through your grief, but also know that one day it will melt away and be replaced by only the best of memories. You will smile again when you look at her pictures. I am glad you joined our cat community. We welcome you with open arms.
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