Coping With the Loss of Your Pet 走出失去寵物的憂傷, 1

Life without Soji (our cat) has not been easy these past 4 months. After all, we spent 14 years of our life with her! Before Soji, I had never had a cat. If anything, I was a little afraid of cats. I remember that my husband and I just started dating before we met Soji. He liked to tease me and suggested that maybe I should get a cat. He was out one day and, coincidentally, saw a flier from a neighbor who was looking for someone to watch her cat for about 2 weeks. He showed it to me. At the time, I thought, why not? I'd get to earn a few bucks, the time wasn't long, and it'd be a great chance for me to learn some cat skills. Before deciding, we went to visit the neighbor, and Soji simply looked too cute for us to say no, so we brought her home right away. Unexpectedly, she and I became very close almost instantly. (I guess I'm a natural, after all!) Before it came time to return her, we checked in with our neighbor and were surprised when she told us that if we wanted her, we could keep her (apparently, Soji didn't quite get along very well with our neighbor's other 3-legged cat.) We realized... Oh, that's why!

So you see, just like that, she was with us ever since--pretty much throughout our whole relationship. When we had to suddenly live without her, it felt (and still feels) rather strange and incomplete. The hardest thing for me was to return to the kitchen and cook for the first month. When Soji was very ill during her last 3 weeks, she stayed permanently (and slept) in my kitchen--perhaps the temperature suited her. It was one of her favorite places to be! Needless to say, it was also my favorite room, but after she left, it became one of the most depressing spaces for me...

A lot of people may not see it this way, but for pet owners, losing one's pet is just as painful as loosing a family member. I realized that it's exactly the same grief process that I would have gone through with my family. First came the shock, and then the difficulty of acceptance. During the first few weeks, we would often stare at the empty kitchen floor and cry. We could not believe that Soji was no longer with us. Her existence, her face and her voice all seemed so clear and close to us, and yet, very far away at the same time. I washed her last couple of dirty blankets (near the end, she lost control of her bodily functions) but I couldn't bear to put them away. I slept next to her empty bed (a little kitty bed next to ours), her favorite blanket on top, for weeks. We also left her litter boxes out as they were. Neither of us wanted to touch them or move them.

As we were going through the grief process, we also started to feel guilty. We would constantly look back and wonder what we did wrong. I was always very conscious of what we fed her; we had always bought the best foods possible, since we first got her. I believed that because of that, she was going to live longer than average. I started to ask myself what the point was of eating well. It was so naive of me to think that good food was enough! We regretted giving her vaccines after we learned how harmful they could be--especially since she didn't need them as a single, indoor cat. We also felt that we should have taken her out to the balcony more when walking became difficult for her. I could go on and on about our regrets and our anger towards ourselves, but there's no going back. Once we realized this, it started to become even more painful for us.

In the end, I realized certain things were necessary to help myself cope better:

Cry out loud - don't be afraid to shed your tears; it is all part of the process. I can't count how many times I cried. It could start from looking at Soji's photos, toys, empty food bowls, litter box...etc., and I still do, but trust me, it will only get better and better and you'll come out stronger, too.

Write about how you feel - I started writing about it a day after Soji left (click here to read that post). I knew I had to do it, and by sharing my stories, I was better able to accept the truth. 

Reach out to others - unfortunately, I don't have many close friends who have pets, but by talking to my family (who have also met Soji), I felt comforted. You can also try to join a pet loss support group online, or visit an online forum to meet people who are going through the same thing.

Listen to music - music has been a big part of my life, so naturally it's one of the best remedies for me. I find that certain music can really calm me. I took a break from a lot of the music I used to love. Only recently was I able to listen to some pop and alternative music again. 
Some of my favourite calming music:
Playing the Piano/Out of Noise - by Ryuichi Sakamoto
This album is actually in 2 parts: the 1st CD is a piano solo (Playing the Piano); the second (Out of Noise) incorporates the feelings and experiences from his trip to the Arctic and the field recordings he made there. When I listen to the album, it's as if I can feel this spacious place, and see the spectacular scenery of nature. It reminds me of how everything, every life (including ourselves) evolved through a cycle. I know I'll be seeing Soji again.
Here's one of my favourites, In The Red.

Sound of Silence (a piano compilation)
As a pianist, I've always loved piano solo music. This album is a collection of beautiful and peaceful classical piano music. I love listening to it when I'm alone. It calms my mind and gives me peace.
One of my favorite pieces on the album is Prélude op.18 by César Franck.

Journey to the Inner Being (compilation)
This was a gift from someone very special in Taiwan who knew that I needed it, so it means a lot to me. The set has 4 discs and is recommended by therapists for its healing effects. One of my favourite discs is Shanay. Because of its repetitiveness along with the sound of the traditional Indian instruments, it sounds rather spiritual to me. It reminds me not to get too attached to the past, but instead to focus more on the present and to work on my inner soul. It's very meditative.

Zen Garden - Serenity, Relaxation and Meditation
I originally found this music for Soji to ease her pain during her last few months. Through it, I came to believe that certain music has special healing qualities that can help our (and animals') body and mind. This is by far my favourite Zen music. It's so calming, and I love that the composer often mixes the music with sounds of nature. I thought Soji might like this one since it has bird calls. We played this series for her pretty much throughout the whole day, and the strange thing was we never got tired of it. She didn't seem to, either. Even today, we still listen to them all the time as if she's still here with us. This music will always remind us of her...and maybe her of us. 
(Click here for the music)

Watch or read cat related things - this is one thing I always liked to do even when Soji was still around. It brings me joy and laughter, whether it's looking at posts about cats from one of my favorite cat bloggers, watching cat related shows, or pinning cat photos on Pinterest.

My favourites:
Simon's Cat
It's a very cute cartoon short and often depicts the human relationship with cats; in the video, just like in life, cats always win! 
Simon's Cat Official Website
Simon's Cat Facebook

Must Love Cats (TV show)

A really funny show from Animal Planet. The host, John Fulton, always improvises by playing guitar and singing funny lyrics about the cats on the show. He travels to different places to meet some of the world's most famous cats. Just like the title, you must love cats after watching them!

Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul (book)
This is a heart warming book that is filled with people's stories about their own cats. Some are funny, some are sad, all are moving. Anyway, it'll help you get through this tough times.

Even now, I still cry every now and then, I still talk about Soji, and I still miss her very, very much. I don't know how long it will take me to completely get over it, if ever, but I will take each day as it comes. I hope my own experiences will help you to overcome your own loss and to recover better. Of course, every individual is different. If you have any other ways that help you and you would like to share them with me and everyone, you're more than welcome to leave your comments below. (=^-ω-^=)

To find more ways to heal your pain, please read:

Coping With the Loss of Your Pet, 2

From Fostering to Adopting, 1

Photos ©2014 Yvonne Rosenbaum


就這樣,她陪我們一直走到去年12月,一下子沒有她陪伴在身邊,感覺好像少了什麼似的。對我來說,最難的是回到那空蕩的廚房裡做菜,尤其是剛開始的那一個月。Soji離開的前幾個星期,由於已病痛到無法隨意走動,她選擇了窩在我每天花最多時間、也是她喜愛的地方之一 - 我的廚房。當然,因為有她在一旁,讓我更能在廚房裡安心的做菜,也是讓我感到最溫馨的地方。但她離開之後,這段時間卻成為令我最為沮喪的地方…


當我們經歷這整個悲傷過程的同時,也開始感到內疚。我們時常會回想她病發之前的種種,然後檢討我們到底是不是做錯了什麼。身為廚師的我,打從Soji小時候,就很注意她食物的品質,總是買最好的罐頭、食材,甚至親自為她準備。我曾天真的想說只要給她好的食物,一定可以活的比一般的貓還要更長久。但是僅管如此,她還是得了常見的淋巴癌。之前由於無知,我們讓她受苦打過不必要的疫苗,後來瞭解它的傷害力之後非常後悔 (有一些研究顯示癌症的引起與很多的疫苗有關連)。另外,我們也會怪自己當時太擔心她在外面冷到,沒有太常帶她到我們的陽台透氣等等…。反正就這樣,所有可以想到的,都拼命往自己身上推,對自己生氣。但我們其實也很明白這些都是過去了,現在後悔也無法喚回她的生命。大概也是因為知道事實無法改變,那種返返復復的掙扎,使得我們內心更加的痛苦。


大聲的哭出 - 不要太勉強自己,該哭的時候還是要哭,這只不過是一個過程。我自己已不知哭了多少次,從不經意的看到Soji的照片、玩具、餐碗、到貓砂盒等等,都會讓我想到她!直到現在,還是偶爾會被那些東西觸動到,但是時間會使一切變好的,而您也會由這個過程中學習新的東西、變的更堅強。

寫下您的感受 - 我在Soji離開之後的第二天,開始把那天以及對她的一些感想記下來 (閱讀文章請按這裡)。我當時知道我必須那麼做,因為通過分享我的故事,才可以幫助我療癒傷口。

多接觸他人 - 很不幸的是我身邊並沒有太多朋友有寵物,所以無法找他們談,不過剛好家人之前都跟Soji相處過,在這段期間,他們特別的關心我,給予我不少安慰。當然,除了家人或身邊的好友,也可以聯繫失去寵物支持熱線,並把自己內心的傷痛寫出來。

以音樂療傷 - 由於自己是一位音樂人,所以音樂對我來說是相當重要的。有些音樂能讓我在心靈上感到平靜;而有些音樂(如搖滾樂、流行歌)在那段期間完全無法聽。


Playing the Piano/Out of Noise by 坂本龍一

我選了這專輯裡我自己很喜歡的其中一首In the Red讓大家聽,試聽這裡

Sound of Silence, Piano (經選古典鋼琴獨奏曲)


Prélude op.18 by César Franck是其中的一首,試聽這裡。(video裡面除了Prélude前奏之外,還包括賦格與變奏)


這是去年回台灣時,一位很特別的朋友送的,因此對我來說意義深遠。它其實是一套由4張CD組成的專輯,並且是全球專業治療醫師所推薦的風潮音樂。我最喜愛的其中一張是蘇菲 (Shanay),那反覆著的印度拉加古調,再加上傳統樂器的演奏,很有宗教與靈性音樂的感覺。它好像在提醒我要活在當下,而不要對過去太執著。

Serenity, Relaxation and Meditation by Zenchantment

試聽Zen Garden - Serenity, Relaxation and Meditation這裡




Catophilia: 我很愛它的插畫,很具有日本與法國風的感覺。(以下的插畫就是他們畫的)
喜歡的話,誠品書店還有賣他們的產品喔~ (請按這裡)

偶爾也會發表插畫展或有沖繩貓照片 (請按這裡)





  1. Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful post. I recently went through the same thing. I actually found your blog by googling Taiwanese blogs, but got side tracked by the lovely cat notes.

    I had my kitty for just over 18 years so it's been pretty hard. I totally understand the staring at the space they used to occupy. The first week afterwards, I didn't even want to go home knowing that he wouldn't be there.

    Again, thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Thank you for your nice comment and for sharing your personal story with me. I'm very sorry about your recent loss, and I can imagine how painful it must be to lose a kitty that has been with you for more than 18 years!

    It's been three and a half years for me now, and I can tell you that I still get emotional sometimes when I talk about my kitty. If you're interested in connecting to your kitty through a pet psychic, you can read my other post, Coping With The Loss of Your Pet, 2. It has helped us tremendously. We were able to move on and adopt our current kitty, MouMou. We understood that by giving more love to other kitties, we're continuing to give love to Soji. I hope you'll be able to find peace, knowing your kitty will always be with you, just like we feel Soji is with us. Please take care!


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