Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moving Through Loss

We have all experienced loss at one time or another in our lives. Whether it be the loss of a job, a home, our youth, or the loss of a living (now resting in peace) being. Loss and the accompanying grief along with ever-changing emotions can be difficult to maneuver through.

Many of you know I put my beloved cat, Archer, to sleep just a week ago today. A sweet boy who was with me for over 16 1/2 years. This has been a huge loss for me as well as for my almost 18 year old cat and dog of 3 years. Yesterday I picked up Archer’s ashes from my vet and upon arriving home, sank down in the middle of my entry way and sobbed uncontrollably. Although having his ashes gave me a sense of relief and connection, having the ashes in a box in my hands also brought back a whole new level of loss and grief that literally brought me to my knees.

Many say that grief is like a wave. The intense feelings come and go like waves in the expanse of an ocean. This ocean, however, is ebbing and flowing e-motion and the waves can truly come crashing down at unexpected times and places and for an unspecified period of time. My father died 3 years ago and I still find tears coming to my eyes when I see a photo of him or a distinct memory comes back to me.

Archer was an indoor cat and always in my home for all those years, therefore when I’m at home, it’s a constant reminder of his absence. And so the feelings come; then they dissipate and go; and then again, another wave to ride. My commitment to myself is to sit with the feelings vs. trying to move away from them. Without fully grieving this huge loss there will be feelings left unexpressed, which can and probably will come out in less healthy and imbalanced ways down the road.

My point here and my wanting to share my experience is to say to you as well as to myself—feel the feelings. They will come and go, but they are important to process. Gather good friends around and animals if you have them, then laugh and cry and grieve until there isn’t anything left to express. Move through the grieving, feel the loss, ride the waves as they come and go. Eventually they will lessen and so will the pain. This is an individual process, which cannot be compared with anyone else’s grieving journey. The important thing: Grieve. It is the healthiest thing to do after a loss.

To ALL of you who have reached out to me during this time, I am so very grateful. From your cards and flowers to emails and phone calls, whether listening to my tears and remembrances or simply offering hugs—I am forever grateful. Thank you.

Also see:
Grace, 1 year old; Archer 6 weeks old—1995

UPDATE: 7/2015 
UPDATE: 10/2014
UPDATE: 10/2014

I found this book, Going Home by Jon Katz, at a thrift store several months ago. I liked the author and thought the subject matter (loss of a pet) might come in handy some day. And it did. Soon after my thrift store find, a neighbor friend had to put his dog down. I lent him the book, having not read a single word. After another few months had passed, this neighbor was moving out of town and although at the time I didnt understand why I was so insistent about getting this book back, now it is clear to me.

This morning, less than a week after putting my sweet pup to sleep, I was lying in bed, having lazily slept in (no dog to take out to do his morning business) and all of the sudden I got the urge to get up, go to my library, and retrieve this book. I couldn’t put it down.

To read Jon Katzs words about his beloved dogs and the grieving he went through somehow eased my pain to some degree. I suppose its like a club you dont want to joinbut all of us pet owners will and do join. Yet there is something about the company of others who know what I am going through that is soothing to my soul. The book isnt sad though, its uplifting. Sweet and consoling. It has lots of good stories and sound advice.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is about to go through the loss of a pet, is in the process of grieving a loss, or who is curious about the life, death, and grieving of our so-loved animals. I have now purchased several copies for people I care about knowing it will help them nowor later.

If youre interested in reading a tribute I wrote for my dog, see QUINCY BLUA Beautiful Life. And now (May 2016), another tribute to my 22 year old kitty: Amazing Grace—Such a long, long run.


  1. Linda O'Neill November 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM
    So very sorry to hear about Archer, Carolyn.

    Your blog post was beautifully written, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. I think I will pass it along to a good friend who has to put her 21 year old cat, Misty down today.

    You take care...big hugs to you, Quincy Blu and Grace. xox

  2. Carolyn Ash November 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM
    Thank you, Linda. Blessings to your friend and her Misty. My heart goes out to them. xo

  3. Brooke Andrews November 16, 2011 at 3:49 PM
    Thank you sister Kitty. I miss Archer too and when I am with my cat Butler I think how hard that day will be for me so I just love on him even more. I guess having a pet is the one place in our lives we can practice attachment. Love you. Brooke.
    p.s. I love the kitty photo of the two.