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.
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 ”).