Monday, July 13, 2015

Guest Blogger Leslie Goodwin, Author of Cat Skills, on Grieving

When Melissa first shared the sad news, I was stung with disbelief. Wasn’t Truffles healthy and happy only yesterday? She wasn’t old….was she? Then I thought of my own lost loves; Bubba who chased a squirrel for the first time in his life…straight into the road,  Maisie, who couldn’t beat a fatal disease and Runtie and Lucy…who I loved for almost 17 years.  

I drew strength from nurturing my old guys. They needed me more than ever. The hardest call I ever made was to my vet when Lucy’s cancer could no longer be ignored. Runt’s time was easier. But both times, I had some control in the final days.

The sudden loss of a young, healthy cat, though,  feels like being stabbed in the heart.  After the initial shock, a flood of emotions and questions with no answers torture us as we struggle to make sense of a senseless loss.  Yet, with time, and a little intervention by the Cat God….heart wounds do heal.

Melissa, this is for you and Tara and Truffles….The following is excerpted from my book, CAT SKILLS: Loving Care for Cats. Leslie Goodwin


After losing a loved one, we're haunted by a terrifying thought: I'll never love or be loved as deeply again. We are burdened with regrets--baggage we lug along on our grief trip: Why did he have to get sick? Why didn't I see it coming? Why couldn't I have saved him? Why did I wait so long to put him down? Should I have waited longer?

We can invent dozens of woulda, coulda, shouldas that serve only as guides for the future but do nothing to change the past. Somehow, we forget the many happy years together and focus on a few difficult days, weeks, or months.

Loss can leave us feeling numb, paralyzed, broken beyond repair...yet deep inside flickers a pilot light of hope. Sadness is one color in a whole rainbow of emotions that are our privilege and burden as mere humans.

The challenge after loss is to banish regrets, reject fearful thoughts and stow that oppressive cargo. Relief comes from believing that love is perennial. The supply is never-ending. Love grows where it is planted and thrives where it is nurtured.

Fear not. When you are ready, the Cat God will be waiting to match you again with the perfect feline friend. You can never replace a loved one...but you can carry on a beautiful tradition with your new loved ones. 

This is part one of two. Copyright by Leslie Goodwin. Excerpted from CAT SKILLS: Loving Care for Cats by Leslie Goodwin..available on

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  C.S. Lewis


Gattina said...

Time heals, but they stay always in your heart and memories. Since I had cats 4 of them died, which was normal as they became all nearly 20 years old. But one was little Arthur 1, he was such a special cat and one day I found him dead laying on the terrace in front of the kitchen door. He was only one year old and died from a heart attack. That really came so unexpected like a hammer on your head. It was the first time I saw Mr. G. crying.

ZOOLATRY said...

No offense is meant to anyone, but as we each love in our own way, so do we grieve in our own way, our own time. For some time does not heal. The sharpness of the loss may lessen, it may not be with you every waking hour ... yet it will always be there, and there will always be reminders all around you. Little things you see, you hear, you smell. All those many things that stir a memory, and things that cause you to ask yourself "what if". Rather than fight against this, absorb it, accept it, hold it close with joy, treasure it. It is yours to keep forever. Do not let others tell you to move on. Every being that has been a part of your life, no matter the length of time with you is now part of you and will always be part of you. It is a good thing.

Fur Everywhere said...

Unfortunately, the only way to "get over" grief is to go through it. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions that come with it - and yes, that includes the guilt, fears, and sadness. If we merely try and avoid feeling these things, we will never truly be able to heal. It's not an easy task. To be quite honest, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of emotions surrounding Jewel's passing. We had a mere two years together - the entire time with her being chronically and terminally ill.

I have told Melissa this, but I cannot even imagine having a kitty pass suddenly. We knew it was coming eventually with Jewel, and I fell apart even so. I hope that she can find comfort and peace somehow.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we wish we didn't have to go through it but will take the pain, of loss, in exchange for all the happy memories...every tear a memory. Sending caring thoughts, Melissa.

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

This was an incredibly beautiful post and so true. All of this is so true. My favorite though, "Fear not. When you are ready, the Cat God will be waiting to match you again with the perfect feline friend. You can never replace a loved one...but you can carry on a beautiful tradition with your new loved ones. "

My vet told me the same thing (in different words), when I was overcome with guilt when I had adopted Cody a mere two weeks after my Angel Bobo (who I had for 18 yrs), passed. He said, "You aren't replacing Bobo, you are creating NEW memories with a new cat. Bobo would want you to give the same love you gave to him, to another cat in need of love"

(((((hugs))) and much love.

Kitty Cat Chronicles said...

Beautiful words that couldn't be more true. Losing a beloved pet is one of the hardest things, especially when it is so sudden and unexpected. But the wounds will heal, and the love shared makes it so worth it.

leslie said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope it was helpful to anyone suffering a recent loss...the power of love is the strongest medicine for healing a broken heart..the book has so much more about living with and loving cats.


For myself I believe that loss becomes a part of your life as you move forward. In the beginning you don't want to go forward, you just want to go back. As the guest poster said you do all the "woulda, couldas" and feel tremendous guilt, even if there really is none. Everyone does grieve differently, and I do fully agree with Ann, sometimes you don't get over it. For me, time does not exactly heal, but it softens the harshness of the our losses. Nothing can ever be found that will fill the paws of a beloved animal, but from my own personal experience, finding another to love helps tie the bridges between loss and new beginnings.

Robin said...

This is so accurate! I love C.S. Lewis. He's right - it is better to love and suffer the heartbreak so that we know we still have a healthy beating heart inside. It is very hard to lose a pet. I lost my Obi-Wan before he turned 2. There are no words for the pain it caused. Never forget that God has a plan even if we can't see it. Growing the muscle of compassion causes pain and ache, but it does get stronger. Great things are yet to come. *hugs*
-Purrs from your friends at

ThePainterPack said...

Such wonderful and very accurate words! Losing those we love is always so hard. But knowing the steps to handle that sadness are vital.

The Painter Pack

Mickey's Musings said...

Great post and very true.
Love the C.S.Lewis quote.
We all grieve in our own way.
Opening your heart to love helps healing.
You will never forget,but you will go on.
Purrs Georgia and Julie,
Treasure and JJ

pilch92 said...

Excellent post. Sadly, loss is part of loving cats,but worth it to have gotten to share a life with them.

Cathy Keisha said...

I certainly hope this will be easier for you than it’s been for TW.

meowmeowmans said...

This is such a wonderful post. We especially love the line, "You can never replace a loved one...but you can carry on a beautiful tradition with your new loved ones." So, so true.

leslie said...

Tomorrow is part two! Get Cat Skills for more on loving and living with cats! Leslie

Nancy said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. It's so, so hard to make the leap to love another cat--so hard to know when the grieving has subsided and one is ready. I have a friend who lost her precious three year old baby to FIP. She was grieving horribly, but her husband said to her that she should honor her "Oliver's" memory by adopting a new little guy who desperately needed a home. Eventually she did. Oliver's memory now lives on through her new kitty.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to read this book. What a beautiful, poignant post. My heart goes out to Melissa and her sweet babies Tara and Truffles.