PETS, LOSS, GRIEF, AND IDENTITY

Background Euthansia of a Beloved Pet

On July 18, 2009 I had my 16 year old cat Spooky euthanized. This was a devastating decision. Pook was the last of three cats that I had inherited as my daughters grew and left home to be on their own. I had allowed the other two to die at home which was difficult to witness also.

In November,2007 Pook had developed a severe UTI with test showing complications of renal failure. At that time I spent $1250 to treat the UTI. When the UTI cleared up the renal failure was minimized. I did have to feed her prescription food and bottled water. She gained weight from the 5.5 pounds to 11 lbs and seemed to be thriving again.

On the morning of July 17, 2009 she woke me up throwing up, but she seemed to be OK the remainder of that day. The night of july 17-18,2009 she woke me up about every 45 minutes throwing up. I knew I had to take her to the Vet that morning. The resulting diagnosis of total Kidney failure hit me like a bolt of lightning. My worst fears were realized, and the euthanasia progressed.

Talking to my Daughters

I contacted my daughters on the same day of the occurance of Pook's death. I found much expression impossible. I doubt that to this day I could express the following verbally. I sent an e mail to my daughters with the below attached. I did however realize the tone could cause concern on their parts so in the body of the e mail I assured them I was not suicical. The attachment is below.

Attachment

Loss, Grief and Identity

My reaction to Spooky’s death is beyond what logic would dictate. The most comparable loss I remember occurred in 1980 at the loss of my marriage. But I fear that this loss may prove to be more profound than that experienced at that time.

There were many factors to mitigate the grief of that loss. Caring for my children, doing my job, my basic physical condition and youth, and many other interpersonal relationships.

While I still care deeply for my children and their children and families, I am not necessary to providing for their care. It is not as if my reaction to the 1980 loss had no counterproductive effective on my behavior (Jeckel and Hyde), but I always knew that situation would result in a positive resolution. My day of reckoning would come.

I’ve experienced the loss of many (almost all) of the relatives I knew in my childhood. So death is no stranger to me. Along with each and every death came the sense of personal loss, along with the accompanying grief. Then again I dealt with these losses due to my basic optimism and sense of purpose. But I was never before any part of the instrumentality of such a death. I never held my hand on the dying as the breath of life rushed from them, or stared into their eyes as living trust, love, fear, and questions turned into the horrid lifeless stare in an instantaneous fashion.

At this time I no longer have a “raison d’etre ”, since no person or creature depends on me for their care and well-being. I also lack the benefits of youth and physical health that were present in dealing with previous losses. This experience seems like a culmination of my loss of identity. I experienced the loss of meaningful work due to my disability. Then I lost all earthly possessions due to lack of funds, which resulted in an emasculating (virtually castrating) process with Social Security. But Pook was still there depending on me.

Each night I pray to the Creator with certain elements to my prayer. First my prayer is one of thanks for my life and the countless blessing I have received. Just beholding the beauty and majesty of His creation is an enormous blessing. I pray for strength of spirit and faith because I believe these blessings are synergistic in helping me to carry on in this life. Last I pray for forgiveness of my transgressions In Jesus’ name to allow me to go forward into the life to come. Last night I added an element prior to forgiveness since I always leave forgiveness as the final element I asked for wisdom and enlightenment in my quest for a new inexhaustible “raison d’etre ”. There is no reason for strength and faith to carry on without a reason for being (“raison d’etre ”).

Comments 14 comments

bgamall profile image

bgamall 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

Certainly the last one to care for being taken can cause this. I will try to be aware of that as I have one pet left. This is a tough story but good advice.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV Author

bgamall,

Writing the letter to my daughters about my overall feelings turned out to be a very cathartic experience.

I woke up the next morning feeling much better. I still miss Spooky but the feeling of being totally overwhelmed dissapited.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

Your writing here moved me to tears, brother. Go down to the pound and get yourself a dog or cat—or one of each or two of one or the other. It is good therapy for you and you will be saving a life or two while you're at it. I'll pray for you right now.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV Author

James,

When my daughter and her family moved last year they left their cat with me. So I do have Salem to take care of. But he is very independent.

I think losing Spooky just hit me so hard because we had been together over 16 years. Thank you for your prayers. As I stated the writing of my feelings was very cathartic.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

nice story about your cat and your daughter.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV Author

prasetio, Thank you for visiting and commenting.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Tom, Please accept my condolences on the loss of your dear pet. It's clear that you truly loved Spooky and the years you spent together were good for you both. I hesitated to read this story because of my own recent losses which I'm yet unable to express, but I'm glad I did. I do understand and hope for your memories to ease into the happy times rather than the tragic end you just experienced. Time will heal and you are needed now for the care of Salem. Keep strong and may God bless you now.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV Author

PegCole17,

Thank you for your visit and your kind comments. It was about 5-1/2 months ago that I lost Spooky. I still missed her on Christmas and New Years Eve. The grief has lessened over time. Salem is doing fine, and we seem to have become closer.


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

With sympathy and understanding in the loss of Spooky - and other losses too. Your story is sadness, grief expressed, but your last paragraph shows your hope. And remember in that context that: Your reason for being, i.e. continuing, is that YOU ARE! God knows the reasons, seasons, and journey. Will become your follower now too.

I came here from your 'dogs, sixth sense hub', and that was GREAT!


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV Author

frogyfish,

I still miss Spooky but I have learned to move on. Thank you for your kind comment.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Sad story I know it has been awhile since Spooky has past but my heart and blessings go out to you. The loss of a pet is painful we are not looking forward to that at all. ((Big Hugs)) :)


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV Author

AEvans

Thank you for your kind thoughts. With the first of May coming up I have been thinking of Pook. This would have been her 17th birthday. At least Salem is coming to care for me. Thanks again.


Nova 21 months ago

Thank you for this...I am looking fowarrd to reading The Gathering, saving it up for a treat.And thank you too for this, because it is utterly right (for this reader):"if the words were simply clever, I wouldn't be remembering them as vividly..."It's that 'emotional power' you also refer to. Words can be as clever, as sharp as they like, but if they do not ring right and true, then they fall flat in some measure, I think.good stuff.V


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 21 months ago from Moundsville, WV Author

you personnify your comments.

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