Grief Is Love

both11“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go” ~ Jamie Anderson

There are many skeptics who discount the feelings of non-human animals.  I have been doing research for a book I am writing about animals and in doing so I came across an article in the Smithsonian where a story is relayed about an orca, Tahlequah, who carried her dead calf through icy water for 17 days before dropping it.  The story ended with these words: “The question is not “Do animals grieve?” but “How do animals grieve?”

As you may be aware, my almost 20-year-old cat, Tazzie, passed away Monday morning.  This has left such a huge hole in my heart with her physical absence, although I know her spirit is still right beside me.  What I am observing now first-hand is the grief that my other cat, Gizmo, is exhibiting.  He will be 19 in a couple of months and he has only known a world where Taz was there every day of his life.  He has always been such a rambunctious cat, very vocal and extremely active.  He is now very obviously depressed, crying, and has thrown up twice today.  He has eaten very little, which is unusual for him. He has searched the entire apartment looking for her, especially her hiding places where she would go for peace and quiet. He looks out the windows to see if she is outside. He will not leave my side. We are grieving her together, comforting each other. I know it is confusing for him and I am doing my best to give him as much attention as possible while dealing with my own grief and other health issues. Gizmo is a very intuitive cat and I know he understands that I am not in a good place emotionally right now.  I’m facing some huge decisions about my health and he keeps snuggling beside me, telling me it will be okay.  I’m trusting you to know that buddy.  We will get through this together but it may take awhile for us both.

My friend Karen is my co-author for our book, A Time For Animals Love Revolution.  She has helped me over the last couple of days with words of comfort including the phrase “grief is love.”  There are no rules to grief just as there are no rules to love.  It just is and it is different for each one of us.  There is no pattern to follow, no set timeframe to work through.  I’m learning to be gentle with myself and allowing the tears to flow with no judgement.  I’m learning that it is okay to let others see me cry. I’m learning that my grief is changing me every day, making me stronger as I focus on why I am grieving.  It is because I loved so deeply and I would not trade that for anything. I loved my little girl with my whole heart and received even more love back from her. She gave me the most precious gift I could ever receive by allowing me to spend her dying moments with her to feel her last heartbeat and hear her last breath. She died hearing the words “I love you” coming from me, her constant companion for her whole lifetime.

So as scientists keep trying to figure out if and how animals grieve, I’m living with a grieving one and he is teaching me so much about how very deeply he feels the loss of his precious sister. If you believe in prayer and a higher power, we could use all of those we can get right now.

 

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/do-animals-experience-grief-180970124/#o0VGdmhGMFd1QWX2.99

In Memory of My Beloved Taz

photo_2019-02-11_10-36-42My friend Katie stopped by one day almost 20 years ago for a visit.  Our visits were quite long as she is totally deaf and we communicated mostly with her perfect ability to lipread and my limited ability to use sign language.  She taught me the sign for cat and insisted that I needed one in my life.  I told her I was okay with it but would need to check with Ken who was my husband at the time.  It didn’t take much convincing and we were off to be introduced to a litter of kittens.  One little solid black kitten in particular caught my attention and kept coming up to me, rubbing up against my legs.  There were so many to choose from, all adorable and very friendly.  As I held the tiny kitten and felt her soft purr, that was it for me.  I knew she was mine just as I was hers.  It was more of a reunion for us.  We took her home and started the process of giving her a name.  She was so very tiny and one of the most playful kittens I have seen, very happy to have our full attention.  One thing she loved to do was chase her tail.  She could go so fast as she chased the elusive tail that she looked like a black tornado – or a Tasmanian devil.  We called her Taz and it seemed to be just perfect as she did her whirling and tail-chasing daily.  I was working from home and had an office where I spent most of my days.  She wanted to be with me, so I got a shoe box and put it on my desk, which she fit in perfectly.  This was how we spent many many days, Taz and I.  She made me laugh with her antics and I gave her loads of love strokes.

As the years went on our family grew with the addition of Gizmo, a Main Coon cat, Patsy Kline who was a stray, and our darling token canine Ali.  We moved several times much to their dismay – cats and cars just do not mix.  In Arizona, both Patsy and Ali decided it was time to move on, both in the same year.  That year was devastating for me.  And then there were two – Taz and Gizmo.  They have been together for close to 19 years, insanely different in personalities but always there for the other if they think something is wrong.

Sometime over the weekend I suspect that Tazzie suffered a stroke.  She has never had a problem vocalizing that she is hungry.  For such a tiny cat she can eat three times what Gizmo eats and he is huge.  This morning, however, she didn’t get up out of her bed and was not interested in eating.  I let her rest but kept an eye on her.  Eventually, she walked to the bathroom but was dragging one leg behind her.  When she didn’t come out for awhile, I checked on her and found her laying in the litter box. I have known for awhile that she has been declining in health but this was the sign I had asked her to give me that it was time to let her go.  I picked her up and held her close, sitting with her and assuring her that it was okay to leave.  I sent mental images to her of when she was young and helped her to see how much she means to me.  I held her close to my heart so she could feel my heartbeat.  I asked the angels to help her as she makes her transition from her physical body to go join her sisters, Ali and Patsy, and told her that I know I will see her again.  This little princess, who reminds me of an Egyptian royal cat, is getting ready to leave me and I am a total wreck over it.  She is my child, my joy, my constant companion.  How do I even express what she means to me?  It’s impossible.  There will be a hole in my heart and an emptiness in my life without her. I connected with my ex-husband and let him say goodbye to her.  She was his little girl also.  She would greet him at the door and always showed such beautiful affection to him. We have both been blessed by this little angel.

I wrote that yesterday.  This morning at 9:55 Taz passed peacefully as I held her in my arms.  Fly high little angel.