I learned early on that loving and being loved by a pet is one of life’s greatest treasures. I’ve kept this lesson close to my heart with every pet I’ve owned – and every pet I’ve lost.
As children, neither of my parents owned pets, so they knew that they wanted their children to have pets. During my childhood, we always had dogs or cats running around the house, and I felt lucky to have animals in my life. But owning so many pets also taught me how hard it is to lose a pet, and losing a pet is always difficult.
It’s especially hard when you’re old enough to realize the ugliness of a pet’s sickness. Your sadness never seems to go away with age, even though you understand that death is a part of life.
Coincidentally enough, Winnie the Pooh described losing a pet best when he famously said,
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
I’ve had the honor of loving 10 pets throughout my life, three of whom are still here for me to love. Recently, though, my family lost our cat, Duncan. He was unlike any cat that I’ve ever met.
My family met and rescued Duncan, who was a “chonky” reverse tuxedo cat, one Christmas Day. His previous owners gave him up, and when we met him. He had been at the animal shelter for a couple of weeks.
My mom walked into one of the back rooms of the shelter when Duncan Duncan rubbed against her leg. My mom instantly fell in love with Duncan, and our family knew that we needed to keep him.
It took a while for Duncan to fully warm up to us, but he was one of the sweetest animals ever. It was so easy to fall in love with him, which is why when Duncan died, it was almost like I could physically feel my heart break. I feel this cloud of heaviness any time I think of him, especially when I look back on the last moments that I shared with Duncan. Sometimes it feels like the moment when I lost him is the only thing rushing through my mind instead of the good memories.
Every time I lose an animal, it’s like I lose a part of myself that I can never get back again.
But even though losing my cat hurts and I feel like I’ll never fully be the same as I was before Duncan came into my life, there isn’t anything I would do differently. I wouldn’t trade my heartbreak for a life where I never got to love him. My family only got to love Duncan for a short time, but it’s a period of time that I’ll treasure forever.
When my cat passed away, I realized that grief is an essential part of humanity. Our ability to feel deep emotions after losing someone we love is what makes us so special. Grieving Duncan has taught me to be open about my emotions and to understand that even painful feelings are an important part of the healing process. Even though the grief of losing a pet never gets any easier, I know it means that I’ve had a special bond with a pet, which will always comfort me.