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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Grieving for week later.

Scratchy died a week ago yesterday.  It was a very sad day where I had a few emotional outbursts of tears and sobbing.  Throughout the day, I was remembering what was happening at specific times on the day she died.  I was feeling bad for myself for what I went through and the loss of Scratchy.  I felt increased sorrow at 5:15 pm when Scratchy had been gone for one week.  

I am still very distraught and filled with grief and most times when I talk about Scratchy, I still tear up.  Throughout the week, I experienced numbness where I was matter-of-fact and tried to stay occupied to distract myself.  I felt deep sorrow and grief where I would sob uncontrollably and depression where I didn’t really talk or interact with anyone.  I also felt denial that she was even really gone-even though I saw her die.  It does seem to get better with time but I feel that there is a certain amount of grieving that I will have to do before I can let her go.

I am not a grief expert and I haven’t even really dealt with death before.  I read about ways to help myself cope and let myself cry whenever and where ever, I needed to.  I was kind to myself and did not blame myself or anyone else for her death.  I understood now, and at the time of her death, that this was a rare occurrence and there was nothing anyone could do to save her.  I accept that it was an illness that she could not recover from.  I am just left with why her? Why me?  

It is painful and strange to not see Scratchy sleeping in her favorite spots and jumping on our laps for a belly rub.  She had certain things that she did regularly.  When I changed the litter boxes, she always wanted to watch me.  She would try to sit on my lap or right next to me.  In the morning, I would go into the bathroom and when I opened the door, there was Scratchy waiting for me next to the door-in the same spot everyday.  I would always pick her up and carry her into the kitchen where I would start the coffee maker.  At night, I give the cats a small amount of wet food and now I have to get one less plate each night.  When I give them dry food, I give them one less scoop.  

All through the day, there are reminders of her not being here.  It is getting easier as my new circumstances become normal-but it is still difficult.

I have been concerned about the other cats grieving.  I have 3 cats living in a separate part of the apartment and we were going to begin transitioning one of them to be out here on the day that Scratchy ended up passing away.  Of course when we planned to do this that Saturday, it was because I was not doing adoptions and I could be here all day to monitor the situation and to see how the cats were responding to each other.  When we made this decision, Scratchy was healthy.    

So, I have been concerned about how the cats would respond to Scratchy’s absence and then Jackson’s appearance.  I have not brought Jackson out to meet the others yet.  I am still monitoring the other cats to find the right time to introduce Jackson.  I might try it in another week or so.

Out of all of the cats here, I think that Ramses is grieving in a way that I can see.  The others might be hiding their grief, I am not sure.  Ramses has definitely been more clingy and needy.  He wants to be near us more and sit on our laps more.  He also comes into our bed more at night.  He is a little vocal normally and I think that has increased a bit.  He goes into rooms and meows, possibly looking for Scratchy, maybe just crying out because he knows she is gone.
Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to the pet cemetery where Scratchy’s ashes were spread with other animals who have passed away.  It was a very peaceful area in the country with lots of trees.  Some areas have actual tombstones, that like of a human cemetery.  The area that her ashes are in do not have any tombstones, it is the designated place for ashes only.  

Before we went, we bought 3 baby pink balloons.  The number of 3 has no real meaning to me but maybe subconsciously I chose 3 because she was with us for 3 months.  I didn’t want just one balloon, so I chose 3.  They were baby pink with baby pink ribbon.  We had the option to buy a weight and I did so that I could take that home with me to remember that day and Scratchy.  

We drove about 4 miles into the country and saw the white picket fence that surrounds the area.  We drove down a short, winding road into the cemetery.  As we drove in, we saw a small pond with a fountain in the middle with all kinds of geese swimming around it.  There were small statues with angels holding animals or of animals alone strewn about the trees and tombstones.  

We drove a little more and got to the office and parking area.  This cemetery, called Rolling Acres, was the first in Kansas City, created in 1973.  It is a small operation and the area showed that.  It did not feel “commercialized”.  I felt better that is felt so quaint and caring.  

We got the balloons and walked to the area where Scratchy was.  We walked through the snow and ice and very cold winds.  The winds were bitterly cold.  The high was 11 degrees and the low was -1 degrees. We dressed in layers so that we could be as warm as possible while we stood out on that hill remembering Scratchy.  

We chose a spot to stand in and my boyfriend said some kind words, remembering Scratchy when she was alive and talking about how she would feel if she could talk to us now.  She was in a peaceful place and we had done the best for her, while she was alive and making the decision of her death.  

We stood together, holding hands and hugging, then decided it was too cold to stand outside any longer.  I held the balloons and let them go when I was ready.  For some reason, I was hesitant to let them go.  It had some kind of meaning for me to let those balloons go up into the sky.  I don't know what that meaning was.  It was another way of letting her go, I guess.  

We watched the balloons rise into the sky and continue to go right into a large tree!  The wind must have changed directions right before I let them go because we both thought they were going to go in a different direction.  

This entire experience has been very painful and emotionally draining.  Some people don't seem to understand my grief, which makes it even worse.  

Some things I did or plan to do to remember Scratchy:

I made a short video slideshow (click here to watch it) and sent it to everyone I knew.  We went to where her ashes were on the week anniversary of her death and released balloons.  I am making cat toys and blankets for the cats at the shelter in her memory.  I am going to have a pet tag engraved with her name and put it on my key chain.  I am also putting her picture in a nice frame and hanging in on the wall in a prominent place.  I am also going to put her picture on a coffee mug (through cafepress or another service like that) because I drink a lot of coffee and it is another way to remember her.  

We miss you and love you so much, Scratchy!


  1. i feel sad for you kristy,very sad story.when i first read your description on youtube about how,i started crying nonstop ,because animals dying of stuff like that around holidays is so sad.i hope you feel better.

  2. Thank You anon. We still miss her a lot. She was such a sweet kitty.


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