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St Anne's Veterinary Group Blog

» Grieving - my journey

This is a blog I have put off writing for a long time because it's painful and personal and there are going to be tears, but here goes...

This is just a story of me, a pet owner and losing the love of my life. The story starts on the late May Bank Holiday 2005, I was on duty that day as a Vet Nurse in the surgery when 5 tiny kittens got brought in by a grave digger who had found them in the graveyard in a cardboard box in the rain.

They were about 4 weeks old and there were 3 girls and 2 boys. I had lost my gorgeous cat Tigger the October before to pancreatic cancer so I desperately wanted to keep one of the kittens. Lets face it I wanted to keep all of them. I called my family who came to see them and I was allowed to keep the 2 boys, they were tiny and so spent most of their time in the beginning curled up with each other.

Dylan was the runt of the litter, he had googly eyes that seemed too big for his head, which in turn looked too big for his body. Archie was the biggest of the litter, he was huge but they loved each other. Dylan had always favoured myself and my Dad whereas Archie favoured my brother and my Mum. I have always been a crazy cat lady and Dylan who was pretty lazy was spoilt, Archie would work for things whereas Dylan would point blank refuse.

New year 2011 I became very ill and went from going to the gym most days after leaving work to being in bed for months, they discovered I had immune disorders, I got a virus in my ribs and spine which caused a lot of pain. Dylan basically didn't leave me, he popped out to go to the toilet and then back to me. He sat on my clothes whilst I had a bath and sat up to the table with me at meal times. He got cried on so many times as I lay there in agony, he even stayed when I was using my noisy nebuliser in bed. When I finally got back to work he was waiting for me when I got home.

Over the last 8 years I've had many many infections and illnesses for 5 or so months at a time and Dylan was such a source of strength for me, he would ignore everyone else but me, I even used to FaceTime him when I wasn't home.

I moved out at the end of 2014 from my family home in the countryside to a small flat in Eastbourne so I didn't take him with me but saw him twice a week or so. I've never seen him so sad, he started following my little sister around instead. Well mid September last year I got to Mum and Dad's and my little sister was crying and my Dad told me to sit down and I just said "not Dylan?" and my family said "yes" and then grabbed me as I collapsed. The air had been ripped out of my lungs and I felt like I had been bulled over by a truck. Despite living in a sleepy little village Dylan had been hit by a car and killed instantly and found by my Dad on his morning walk.

I just started screaming "WHY?!" and crying uncontrollably, I was hyperventilating and Mum was crying and rubbing my back, I then started vomiting, my body didn't know what was happening. I wanted to see his body, I was just screaming and sobbing and clutching his body. I didn't want to leave him.

I sat with his body for ages. I didn't want him to be alone. For nearly 14 years I'd adored the smell of his fur and it was already fading. It didn't really feel real, how could this possibly happen? I had given this bad news so many times in my career and now I was on the other end.

I cried a lot the rest of the day, my eyes were so swollen. The next day I woke up crying and went to buy self setting clay and canvasses and paint. I didn't really know what to do with myself. He wasn't sick, I couldn't help him and the only thing I could do was try and memorialise him as much as I could. It was warm and his body was starting to smell so I knew I didn't have much time with him before he needed to go into the coffin my Dad was building him. I did pawprints in clay and some to hang up too, then painted his pads and put them on the canvasses.

My Mum said she couldn't understand how I could stand to do it but I don't know, it was a way of spending some time with him and I don't know, doing something useful. Everyone deals with things differently, grieves differently. Archie, Dylan's brother was hanging around but seemed agitated, he knew Dylan was there but he was dead.

I wrapped Dylan in my pink dressing gown that I had given to him years before because he loved it more than I did. It was SO hard to see him for the last time before Dad put the lid on the coffin before putting him in thr ground. I wasn't ready. I didn't want to do it. I didn't know how. My heart was breaking even further.

For the next few days, weeks even I've felt lost, a whole in my stomach and in my heart which cannot be filled or fixed. It's now been 8 months and I still burst into tears in the car, whilst cooking dinner, when a cat comes in and looks like Dylan, or if someone asks how many pets I have. I feel like I'm doing him a disservice if I don't tell people about him. I looked at other ways to memorialise him and I contacted a lovely lady in America on Etsy who was so kind and she made me a silver necklace from a photo of him. And it's unrecognisable as Dylan, her work and kindness was just what I needed, I haven't removed Dylan from around my neck, I just needed it, to feel like he was here with me.

I  don't really know how to get over it. I talk to my colleagues about it and they're very understanding but I'm thinking I might call the Blue Cross bereavement line to see if they can help me develope coping mechanisms to deal with the loss. It's so hard to explain the bereavement I've suffered to people who don't understand and have never experienced the bond with animals. They don't get it and unfortunately never will. Someone at work suggested I got my thoughts down to help me try and deal with the grief, I can't seem to really find a way to get through it. Some days I can talk about him without crying and others I cry just thinking about him.

I don't know if anyone will read this and understand my feelings and the hole that refuses to be filled but there are many people out her dealing with that.

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