Ideas for helping someone who's lost their first pet?
I posted about a month back about a friend whose cat had been diagnosed with cancer. She had to euthanize her today. This was her first pet; she acquired her 16 years ago, when she was 30ish and the cat was 4 weeks old, as big as a hamster and with the brightest blue eyes. She was a a beautiful grey tiger stripe with a wide white belt on her belly, a black stripe down her back, tiny white mittens and a buttoned-down little face that seemed to perpetually muse about matters beyond mere human understanding. She was a mama's girl; nobody else mattered to her, but she was beloved by several people close to her owner, and by my besotted dog, for her beauty and her sweetness and her air of austere intelligence.
The timing seems particularly horrible. The whole nightmare started at Halloween (friend's favorite holiday), and now has ended both during the Christmas season and two weeks before my friend's birthday. And she is having a tough time financially.
I know she just has to get through it, there's no way to get past that. But any ideas for her birthday, for Christmas, for something that might make her - that might help her?
This, of course, is one of the worse times of her life. She is lucky to have friends that don't "dismiss" her animal friend's passing. There are grief support groups for pet loss. Try googling for your area and calling local vets and rescue groups. Then go with her.
It really helps. Also, don't know if she has performed any rituals - corner with pics,toys,collar; a poem - or even just a trip to a pub to raise a glass in honor of her wonderful kitty.
The older you get the shorter 15ish years seems. We should all switch to birds and turtles that will outlive us.
It might help her just to simply know she's not alone in being very affected. I know that when I lost my BuddyRoo after 25 years, I was a wreck and it was made a little harder by the fact that I was pretty sure a lot of people in my day to day life just. didn't. get it.
You're a good friend to be thinking of her during this time.
You might also think about taking a picture of her critter and having a drawing or something made. One of the gifts I treasure most is one that someone did for me in charcoal of a pic of my dog for a secret santa present. It's one of my prized possessions.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
When we lost Tally a few months ago I found that video. About halfway through it really takes hold.
Another thing that might help (that helped us) was we went to PetCo and looked at the "prisoners". We weren't going to take one home but for some reason it made us both feel a lot better to just go look at needy kitties. We didn't think it would make us feel better, and you'd think it wouldn't, but for us (and it may not be for your friend) it really is sort of soothing. There are still lots of wonderful kitties waiting to come into our lives. They won't take the place of the previous ones in your heart, but they sit quietly in a row, and it's a great feeling to realize how large a space your heart really is... the feeling of loss can be so large that it makes you feel as though there is not room for anything else.
"The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings
I just started volunteering with a group that does just that http://ahelpproject.org/ or http://partnerstothebridge.com/
I know it's located in Washington but it may give some ideas.
Sorry she's going through this - it doesn't matter really what time of year it is - it's always hard.
When I had to euthanize my first cat, I immediately got another cat. And it was the best thing I could have done for me, and for the cat I adopted. (Actually, I soon wound up with 3 new ones, all out of the cute kitten phase and thus less desirable to many people.) If my friend could have a cat but just not afford one, and I had the means to foot the bill, I'd offer to to pay for her cat for a while. There are lots of cats in shelters. Not everyone is ready to move on right away after the loss of a pet, but life does go on. I felt that adopting a cat immediately saved a cat's life, and in a way, saved my life. I am not ashamed to say that I love my cats. :-)
Love the idea of a picture or portrait to give her.
Also, something that has been of some comfort to me, and I know to others, is to make a donation in memory of that animal to some cause that resonates with the owner's ideas about what might be significant. I've done Canine Companions for Independence, Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Irish Wolfhound Foundation, the Canine Health Foundation, etc.
Since this cat had cancer, is there some organization that is doing research on the type of cancer this cat had, or cancer generally in cats, or if this was a stray, some worthy organization that helps stray cats locally such as this one, or something else that might be meaningful to the owner? They will usually write a letter and send it to the person thanking them for the gift in memory of Fluffy, and maybe a calendar or something.
...and there are some really good quotes about loss that you might could send her in a little note or card. I have a number, but just saved this one:
"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. ♥
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality,
never fully understanding the necessary plan."