Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Today was my first day back to work since JJ died. I stayed late - only an hour, but still. That means I failed the test, whatever test there was. The house has seemed uniquely lonely since Saturday evening; it feels like something huge is missing, like I've forgotten something important and I can't quite remember what it is. And tonight as my employees started packing up their things to leave, I didn't want to go home. 

About three weeks ago, I had a therapy appointment and we unexpectedly talked about grief. I explained how I still feel very far from accepting the loss of my grandmother, which happened last October, and I said I actually feel like I've been just storing up losses - keeping a big list - for years, instead of really grieving and letting go. It was an extremely intense session. A couple days later, I noticed that JJ had some kind of a bug, as he wasn't eating much, and a couple days later two key relationships shifted in big ways - in ways that left me . . . losing. I see you, I wanted to say to the universe. Or to Grief itself. I hear you. I feel you. I know what this is about. But honestly all I could do is cry a bit and then add those losses to my list.

I cringe at this, and I know it's terribly indulgent to do so (although we are already blogging, aren't we?), but I think I'm going to write a little about losing JJ. I know he's a pet, and just an animal, and he lived a long life, blah blah. I'm not even really an animal person, to be honest. Everyone who knows me knows that. Losing JJ is a very minor loss, a very first-world loss, compared to most of the losses out there.

But it has been really difficult to have him gone. And losing him was truly horrific. I will never have a family of my own - cute little kids to bathe and send off to school and teach to drive and watch walk down the aisle. I don't have a partner - save a brief stint in the 90's when I lived with a boyfriend, I have lived alone for twenty years. JJ was my family. I am 41, and since I was in my mid-20's, he has been with me.

And now I am alone. I feel sad and confused and exhausted and traumatized by the events of last week. And saying, "Fine," or "Good. And you?" when asked, fifty times a day, how I'm doing, only makes me feel more confused and like I'm slowly floating away from reality and from myself.

I miss him terribly.


  1. I'm so sorry, LSL.

    And no, I don't think it's indulgent to talk about grief, which can be felt just as keenly for a pet as for anyone or anything we lose. I believe grief is about missing our own interaction with the person concerned.

    Photos like the one at the top of your blog entry have got to help - showing JJ loving you and happy you're there. When you miss him, talk to him and hear him tell you "thank you" for looking out for him. His story is complete and you played a huge part in keeping him safe and contented for all those years. You also spent the last few years at home with him rather than ranging across the globe, conscious that he needed you close.

    Your idea about storing up losses is intriguing and poetic, and I'm sure I could come up with my own list, but I'm tempted to suggest that it's a matter of where you focus. Whilst you have lost some of those you've held close, others have come into your life (your nephews spring to mind).

    And, ugh, I know what you mean about saying "Fine, good, and you?" over and over.

    Sending you love from over the Atlantic x

  2. I'm very sorry for your loss. I feel awkward, like reading about your grief is intruding, and then think of how you might feel to put it out there and get no response from people like me who don't know you personally or know what to say. So I can really only say I'm sorry.

    I understand your need to write about JJ. When I put my dog to sleep a few years ago I wrote an obituary for her which I emailed to all the people whose lives she had touched in some way. It was an amazingly healing process.

    As for grief itself, I wonder if those of us who feel like we don't grieve have some sort of expectation that others get through it better, and we need to somehow keep up. Grief is a long and very individual process. The pain never heals, it just gets duller over time. Maybe it's hubris to think there is anything we can do to change that course of events, I don't know. My only advice is to do what it takes to get from today to tomorrow, and try to stay aware to make sure "what it takes" is not self-destructive.

    My thoughts are with you.

  3. Maybe it is a bit first world to grieve the loss of a pet but that doesn't make it any less grief. He WAS your family, your constant, and with a life full of a lot of loss, it makes sense how much this hurts. For a long time I put my grief on the back burner, so much so that I finally caved to it. It was a long climb out of that darkness but I'm stronger now and grateful. Everything I've loved and lost is a part of me and it matters. Grieving it matters. Allow yourself that truth.

    I love you and heartbroken for you and wish I lived closer so I could give you a hug.

  4. There is no such thing as a minor loss. Loss is not quantifiable like that, it's personal and real. I grieve as much if not more for my pets as I do for people, because oftentimes, for people, I need to be strong for others who are grieving.

    Love you.

  5. I am not even an animal person and this post got me all teary.

    Grief is grief is grief. There are so many things that make us feel whole and lossing those things is significant.

    I'm sure JJ misses you too where ever cats go after they die.

    Sending you an email...

  6. I really wanted to ask about JJ when I saw you on Tuesday, but I totally chickened out. Repeatedly. I was afraid of the bad news.

    Your kitty was a part of your life for a long, long time. You needn't downplay his loss. I am quite sorry he's gone.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  9. I truly feel your pain. Animals (whether or not you declare your an animal person) some how manage to wiggle themselves into your hearts and stay there. When you lose something you've had so long there is nothing anyone can do or say to make you feel better. You just have to work through your lose.

    If that means hiding from the world that's OK. If it means waking up in the morning, middle of the night balling your eyes out that's OK to.

    I know because I've been there several time but a couple of months ago when I lost Chaunzie was the worst. I had her for 13 years and she was my hardest and still is. I still miss her!

    So let out your grief because JJ, even though she was just a cat is part of your family and is your child.

    I feel you pain and I truly hope your healing occurs quickly and soon.

  10. Thank you guys all so much for your kind, thoughtful comments. They really mean so much to me. I've read them over and over as I've continued to process what it means to be without my little guy, and I'll keep doing so. Thanks for taking the time to express your care and advice - it makes a difference for me.

  11. I am so sorry to hear of this. JJ was a sweet boy and it is apparent that you loved him dearly. Maybe he is just an animal, but he was your animal, one you loved, treated as family and gave you great comfort, even when he maybe frustrated you. He was your child, in a way. And you are *allowed* to grieve him in the way you need to. Sending hugs...
    Jenny (in PDX)