When someone you love dies, be it a pet or a human, you grieve.
Today we lost my beloved cat, Caitlin. I had raised her from kittenhood and took her through 12 years of her life. Last year, around this time, she stopped eating. I poured food and milk down her throat and bullied her back into fighting shape. For a year, she was back to herself. She bullied Tiger, she bullied our dog, she hogged all the food. Not bad for a cat who barely weighed five pounds at her top weight. Then, last week, I got worried. She wasn't eating much anymore.
This time, there was no saving her. I tried. Since Thursday, I made her drink, I made her eat, but at the end, she was barely moving, stiff, and cold. Last night, when I held her, she tried to purr at me, and I knew for certain that this was it. She was leaving.
I've done this before. I am a veteran pet owner. The downside of the loving is the losing. I try to explain that to Little Guy, who struggles right now with the concept of death and "gone forever." This is his first real experience with it, and he's reacting the way a six year old does. This is painful, this is sad, and that means this is something to be avoided. If you ask him if he's sad, he'll tell you no. If you ask him why he cries, he'll tell you he's not even as the tears are falling down his face.
He wants to get a new cat, something I think to distract from the pain. We told him that wasn't going to happen for a while. We needed to grieve for Caitlin. A new cat could not replace Caitlin; it would simply be a new cat. I'm going the whole "It's OK to miss her. It's OK to be sad. That shows that you loved her."
I lie to him too. I tell him that everything is OK. I think that's a lie all parents tell their kids when it comes to death and dying. Because, let's face it. It's not OK. It won't be OK for a while. Someone we loved died. It hurts. It is, however, a fact of life. It will take time for things to get back to normal. I just opened a can of cat food for our Tiger cat and started bawling.