Grieving Claude.... So I am without my darling boy. The house so empty. Your presence in every room. I expect you to greet me still When I return home. How strange it is to see such a void where, only yesterday food bowls and litter tray used to be.
I notified my family and friends of your death, just as I had when each of my parents died. The list may not have been so long. There was no bereavement notice in 'The Courier' , But I am, nonetheless bereaved. Lost, teary, numb, Busy, to lose myself in things to distract, my bereavement.
Oh for your ginger and white form, purring in my lap. The feel of your coat. Your smell. Greeting friends.... Always one foot in the bowl to make sure water is wet, as you drank. Unique. All gone. Gone Gone. Save only the photographs And memories Of so many years shared together! Can such loss truly be measured.... Dismissed?
Fading away, a shadow of your former self I helped you through those final stages. Along with the vet and nurse An assisted passage At home.
Luckier than my parents
Spared the indignity of a nursing home for "frail and aging cats"
One look from your eyes A refusal to eat, Ready. For Eternity!
Losing a beloved pet is always a sad and traumatic event, in any pet owner's life.
Pets play a vital role in our lives. They introduce, or consolidate what I call our interspecies relationships and bonds. They provide companionship and love. They provide a welcome greeting upon our return home. They listen, calm, comfort and sometimes serve as our confidante when we need a friend!
Our pets teach us much about their species and breed. They may help teach a child, not just about caring for another living creature, but also about life cycles of birth, youth, maturity, old age and death. They may encourage an unwilling reader, or student, along the path of knowledge, helping empower them through language and literacy, as they seek further information about their pet, or other animals.
Pets instantly connect us with the broader community, the fellowship of dog/cat/bird lovers. They can involve us with relevant clubs and organisations specific to the pet we keep. They teach us responsibilty and good pet owner citizenship. They teach us about food chains and related species. They reflect the process of evolution, selective breeding and natural selection.
When a pet dies the impact on the life of its humans can be enormous. Consider the case of an assistance, or guide dog, the elderly person living alone with only their pet as a close companion.
It is only natural that we grieve the loss of our pet.
However, this can be problematic. Whilst society generaly understands the impact of a death of a close family member, the same cannot be said about grief relating to the loss of a well loved pet. For some, the impact of their pet's death may be as great or greater, than the loss of friends or even siblings. Despite this, we are expected to carry on as normal, following the death of a pet!
We assume all families are happy families. We assume an animal can be "replaced" simply by adopting a new pet.
Having owned three horses, as many cats and having dogs as companions from a very young age, I can vouch that no two pets, even from the same breed, let alone species are ever the same, anymore than any two humans are the same. A beloved pet cannot just simply be replaced. Its individual character and loyality, earn its unique place in our hearts, just as we find some humans are way more significant in our lives than the entire sum of human species as a whole.
On Monday I needed to make a truly dreaded decision, one that assured my beloved and extraordinary companion cat Mr Claude, was spared the suffering of a prolongued and agonising death. The decision to euthanaise my darling was made entirely from love.
From a selfish point of view, he could have been subjected to invasive tests and proceedures to pinpoint a more specific diagnosis. But balanced against the unavoidable fact he was a very senior eighteen years of age had I found him more time, it would have been from my own selfish desire, to keep him going at all costs and not in Claude's own best interest.
To any of you who has ever loved and lost a pet. You have my heartfelt condolences. Allow yourselves the time and space to grieve. Apologise to no one!
Fiona Ludbrook is the Client Services Director of Pets and Plants Ballarat. Now, entrepreneur and blogger, she was born and bred in Ballarat, but spent many years as a teacher in Melbourne’s Northern Suburbs.
She has demonstrated a life-long passion and commitment to domestic pets, animal welfare and gardening, including increasing success and experience as a Permaculture Designer and chicken keeper. She also trained in journalism and is an avid writer and reader of non-fiction.