Cats and the Grieving Process – Reconciling the Loss of Harley and a Special Visit from Mr. Jazz

Harley-(2) There is no doubt the loss of a pet is heartbreaking under any circumstances, but when the loss of a pet comes without warning, the grieving process is unspeakably difficult to convey and bear. Unlike with Mr. Jazz whereby Dan and I were given precious months to say goodbye to him and prepare ourselves for the inevitable, when it came to crossing Harley to the Bridge last week, we were given but a few brief minutes. It was not a beautiful Hallmark moment and there was no pretty pink bow to tie up the loose ends in a poignant and touching package so that we could put our minds at ease as we remembered her.

Losing her has left me detached from life as I struggle to come to grips with the reality of the situation yet the world continues around me with alarming regularity. TV commercials blare at me with obscene loudness, screaming at me to buy inane products that I have no use for. I go to work to listen to co-workers argue about things that are so petty that it makes my head spin and when I drive home, the radio jars my nerves with an inspid song with the vapid lyrics “I like it better when we’re wasted.” I know I sound angry and I am sorry if it brings any of you down, but I don’t have an off button for my pain – writing is just my way of sorting through it all and I am certain many of you can relate to my feelings.

The hardest part is trying to be normal – I see Harley everywhere. Not in the spiritual sense like I do with Jazz, but through the imagery of my mind. I can’t let her go and she haunts my every waking moment. I know it is psychological – I am clearly in denial and until I make peace with her crossing, I am my own worst enemy. But right now that’s how it is – I have received sympathy cards that I can’t open yet, I have emails that people have been kind enough to send me that I can barely respond to, and Harley’s ashes that Dan picked up a few days ago sit next to Mr. Jazz in a pretty and functional box that I can’t even look at right now.

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I see Harley everywhere I look and just can’t believe she is gone…

I will say that in the midst of my internal conflict that my cats have been my greatest medicine. They know something has happened and I am certain they are grieving along with Dan and I. Harley’s last moment in our house was in my office – a sharp pain I must relive every time I walk into that room. Zee, Kizmet, Rolz, and Peanut have become diligent soldiers – they have been laying on the rug that is in my office for days now, only a few feet from where Harley had her seizure, as if to help support me and pay respect to her. It is not necessarily unusual for them to be in my office, but all of them together on the floor like that is.

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This photo was taken several years ago – as you can see, it’s not unusual for me to have company in my office…

They sense that our house is cloaked with a veil of sadness and despair – I know it is not good for them to see Dan and I so sad – we are trying our very best to be upbeat with them and give them as much loving and reassurance as we can that everything will be okay. It should not be their burden to take care of us and so grooming, meals, snacks, and playtime – all of it continues with regularity so as not to upset their equilibrium too much, but they are just so intuitive and intelligent. And the truth is, they love Dan and I so very much and they don’t like to see us hurting.

I was told this in no uncertain terms by Kizmet the other night. We were on the couch watching TV – Jazmine was amusing herself with a DaBird toy that she had dismembered and the rest of the gang was hanging out within eye range. Out of the blue, Kizmet bounded onto the couch – I was lying on my side with my head on a pillow. He came up to me with complete intention – pressing his nose firmly into mine to tell me he was there for me and that he understood my grief. He then tucked himself into the bend of my belly as closely as he could so that I could wrap my arm around him and cradle him. He stayed with me for several minutes and it was truly a blessed and profound gesture of love and caring from him.

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I took this photo of Kizmet while I was putting this post together… he is in the office with me, just a couple feet away from where Harley was as she had her seizure. As I I said, he has been such an incredible source of comfort to me and has stuck to me like glue to make sure I am okay…

His love has helped me immensely as have the words of guidance from you all – many of you are telling me to be kind and gentle to myself and I appreciate the message. I am trying, but right now smiles, laughter, and allowing myself to feel happy seem all but impossible and almost a betrayal to Harley’s memory if I give in to feeling some sort of happiness. Right now I question it all – I want to desperately believe there is a better place – that Harley truly is celebrating in a Rainbow Bridge filled with her old pals and that it is peaceful and beautiful. I really don’t know, but without that reassurance, what do we have?

As if to answer my question, I got the most amazing visit last Saturday (the day I shared the news of Harley’s passing). I woke up to find one of our dresser drawers opened – I didn’t think too much of it – Rolz can open drawers and Mr. Jazz used to do it all the time. But the thing is, it was the drawer next to my bed – almost like Mr. Jazz was back to tell me something. I had told you all before that I have seen Jazz in spirit form on occasion – the last time I saw him was in March before we got Jazmine and I figured he had finally crossed fully to the Bridge after that.

I got up to take a shower and when I was done, Mr. Jazz was waiting for me in the bedroom – in the exact spot where Harley had laid with him the last night he was with us before he died. He looked at me for several moments, locking his eyes with mine, and I am positive he told me that Harley had arrived and was safely with him. When the time is right, I will accept the fact she is no longer coming back, but until then, I thank my beautiful Jazz for taking her under his wise and gentle angel wings. Her memory remains etched in my heart and I pray she is at peace.

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This was the look I got from Mr. Jazz as he told me Harley was with him…

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  1. Connie Marie says:

    Deb,
    Write a poem in memory to her.
    I’m glad Mr. Jazz showed himself to help you.
    Kizmet is a good boy for helping to, happy belated birthday to him. Hard to believe it’s been 2 years.
    Your cats care and help you because they love you and want to help.

  2. Jo Singer says:

    What a magnificent post, Deb.

    Our seal point Siamese, Mousie Tongue (a pun) went to the Rainbow Bridge so very prematurely at the tender age of 8. He had suffered from megacolon for many years and the drugs were no longer effective. We opted for the surgery to help correct this condition, and the surgery went extremely well.

    But several days post surgery he went septic- and while my vet tried everything possible to help him, she was unable to save his life. He had been in the ICU at the clinic for six weeks. I visited him daily, and on a Saturday morning I will never forget, he died in my arms.

    I still miss him deeply. But he must have sent messages to Dr. Hush Puppy, since his personality radically changed and is so similar to our seal point boy.

    Mousie Tongue visits us regularly. I see a flash of white light on the wall in his favorite room- where he used to hang out all the time. Whenever I see it, Dr Hush Puppy perks up, and confirms for me that we are being visited.

    Many prayers and lots of glow coming to you dear friend.

    Love,
    Jo

    • Deb says:

      Oh Jo… such a bittersweet story. My heart aches for your loss. But I am glad that he comes to visit you like Mr. Jazz does – it brings a sense of peace and comfort. Thank you for the prayers.

  3. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    ” I pray she is at peace……”

    she is Deb, and Jazz still has more to say

    your greatest solace will come from those around you; meaning Zee, Zoey, Peanut, Mia, Rolz, Jazmine & Kizmet

    ♥♥♥♥♥

    Laura

  4. Oh Deb, I am sorry beyond words to hear about losing Harley. I know so well what you mean about sudden loss being more difficult. And I absolutely believe that our felines left behind will communicate their care and concern to us in unexpected ways. What Kizmet did is no surprise. Allie did the same for me the night we lost Ryker – and after 4 years, has not once done it again. What Kizmet did was special and for that moment in time just for you, to bring comfort and healing.

    Wishing I could take your pain away in some measure….

  5. Laika says:

    So sorry for your loss 🙁

  6. Carolyn says:

    Loss is something I know will happen. Sometimes the fear of it overwhelms me! Your post is so eloquent and I hope that as time passes the thoughts of your two sweet angel furbabies will bring smiles after the pain x

  7. Jennifer says:

    I made a memory box for my kitty, Countess Babette, last June. I found that it helped in my grieving process. Yes, of course I still miss that furball but whenever I get to missing her like crazy all I’ve got to do is open it up.