Ask Max Monday: Helping Your Person Grieve

Max, I have a Big Serious to ask. I’m an older mancat and my sister cat went to the Bridge a week or so ago, and my female human can’t stop crying. (My boy is very sad, too, but he’s holding it in.) She misses my sister and said it hurts extra because she knows that I’ll leave her soon, too. And yes, that is true, because I am old enough to be frail. What can I do to make her stop crying? I don’t want her to be sad.

Dood, I hear what you’re saying. But the truth is that you can’t make her not be sad, no matter how much you want to. You know and I know that the Bridge is a wonderful place to be, and it’s where we’ll get to connect with the Cats Who Came Before Us, and a bunch of other friends we never knew we had, and we’ll have a wicked good time while we wait for our People. We know we’ll see our people again.

But people? They have doubts. Even when they know the truth, they have that little voice in the back of their heads saying, “What if?” They hate the idea of never seeing us again. So when they think of letting us go, even when it’s the right thing to do and is part of the perfect order of things, it breaks their hearts. And sometimes it takes longer for one person’s heart to feel better than it does for someone else.

That’s okay. Your people need to take the time they need to feel the sadness, and they need time for it to turn into happy memories. And since you are older and they’re still hurting because your sister is at the Bridge, it makes them a bit extra sad.

You can’t fix that part, and you shouldn’t try. All you can do is watch them and try to figure out what they need. It might be a gentle head butt, it might be time on a lap, or it might just be sitting on the sofa next to them, purring hard. Just be there for them. Your female person especially might confide in you when no one else is around, whispering to you what she’s feeling…just listen. Purr.

It’s okay to be broken up when the cat you’ve loved and taken care of for so many years needs to go to the Bridge. It’s okay to give into the tears. It’s okay to tell your secrets to your other cats, because they will hold onto them for you.

Dood, your people will be all right. Just keep being yourself, and toss in some extra purrs and laptime. When it’s time for you to join your sister, they’ll be sad again, but they’ll get through it. I promise.

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