Accepting death is something we must all come to eventually. Life forces us to that understanding by giving us death, be it of pet or person.
When death occurs the affected people must grieve, and it makes no difference if the being who has left us is human or animal, the extent of our grief matches the extent of our love. It is particularly difficult when the death is sudden and unexpected, and especially when the being is very young. George was two and a half, around ten for a cat’s life expectancy.
The seven emotional stages of grief are usually understood to be shock or disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance/hope. They don’t necessarily happen in that order and not everyone experiences all these stages depending on their philosophy and spiritual experience, or they may experience them only briefly, but the final stage, the stage where peace can be found, is acceptance. It is this state that we must come to at some point if we’re to move on after the death of a loved one.
I’m a writer, so writing is part of my grieving process. We have all lost someone, so I share this poem in the hope that others will connect to it and that it will help them accept the reality of their loved one’s passing.
I drape a blanket over my lap,
But no cat snuggles between my knees,
Or chooses another chair for his nap.
The room is missing one bright soul.
I reach down to stroke his fur,
But all I find is air.
I’ll never feel his silky softness again;
George isn’t here.
I see him curled in his basket,
So soft, so sweetly asleep,
But the basket is no longer there,
And all I can do is weep.
‘Jump, George, jump,’ I say,
But his nimble leaping is only a memory.
I dangle no string,
There is no George to want to play
The corner in the bathroom is empty and clean;
No bowl of bickies and untouched water;
No chewed butterfly toy.
No tray of litter.
Dawn is breaking.
Finches chitter in the shrubs.
But no one jumps on the bed,
Walks over my head,
And asks with a meow and a bunt to join them.
He’s not between us either,
Beneath the blanket,
Floppy and warm,
Snuggled close and soft,
Ready to purr at the slightest touch.
And no meowing at the door
‘I’m back. I want to come in.’
He’s not stalking ducks, or sheep or cows,
Or waiting for the lizards to show.
He’s not climbing the fencepost or squeezing through holes
To escape to the bush to play.
Not rolling in dirt,
Nor sunning himself.
Not hiding at the end of the day.
He’s not stretching his limbs,
Or arching his back,
Or yawning in his cute kitten way.
Not sleepy, or pesky, or bunting our heads,
No paw on the chest, demanding attention.
No nips when we’re stupid,
Or claws when we’re slow.
No patter of pussy paws
On a mad dash through the house.
No sideways dancing and fur rising,
No wide eyes ready to pounce.
No racing up trees with a gleam in his eye.
No kitten surprises.
But his love remains.
It always will.
In a gentle embrace,
Sweet, joyful and vibrant.
That’s my Kitten George.
My little star shone bright before he fell,
His presence a gift that brought much joy.
Farewell, Kitten George.
Thank you for being and blessing my life.