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Grieving Too Many Losses


Well-Known Member
My mother passed away on December 17, 2017. She was 81 years old. She had been in the hospital for a couple of days due to flu and pneumonia; but when I spoke with her earlier that day, she sounded in good spirits. She told me she still felt tired and weak but better than the day before. The hospital was planning on releasing her that evening; so I thought all was good. When my uncle called to tell me Mom died, my first thought was, “No, that can’t be right. I just talked to her.” Her blood sugar dropped, then her heart rate, and then she died. Gone, like a candle blown out.

I returned to my hometown the next day (I was far too upset to make the 3 hour drive that night). After Mom’s funeral, I agreed to stay at my Mom’s house to look after it while it was in probate. Apparently, the state of TN requires a probate period of at least 6 months even if there is a will. I stayed there to feel closer to Mom. I stayed there to help my sister clear out my mother’s (and father’s) possessions and prepare the house to be sold. She was appointed the executor of the estate. I was just there to lend a helping hand.

After my father’s death, my sister harbored a grudge against me for not helping her with the house and our mother’s care. At that time I was in no position to drop everything in my life and move 5 hours away to help out. For years after my divorce, I was “stuck” in Clarksville, TN, under threat of arrest should I miss any of the court dates over child support to my ex-husband, not to mention I was such an emotional wreck from all of the stress in my life that I couldn’t even care for myself let alone our mother.

The tremendous sense of sadness over the loss of my mother was compounded by the sadness and disappointment I was already feeling over the loss of my 11 year relationship (18 year friendship) with my ex-boyfriend, KR. The shock I experienced left me in a mostly dissociative state that I can only compare to that of 1998 (see my story). Honestly, the next few months were a complete blur. If it wasn’t for my religious journal writing, I would have no recollection whatsoever of that time period. The shock didn’t begin to lift until around August of last year. At that point I seemed to move into a state of catatonic depression that left me feeling existentially isolated and unable to do much of anything.

That was also around the time KR began calling and texting more frequently. My sister refused to allow me to bring my 2 cats with me to Mom’s house. Both cats had some issues given their geriatric ages, and she was worried only about the resale value of the house. I was forced to leave them with my ex-boyfriend who said he would care for them until the estate was handled and I found a place of my own. I felt like I abandoned them, and KR said as much in his texts.

Fast forward to the end of January 2019 when KR’s grandmother died. I drove back to Sparta, TN, to house-sit/cat-sit while he was in Michigan for her funeral. While I was here, my sister decided to begin the repairs on Mom’s house. She had previously told me I should just move back in with KR despite everything I told her about his abusive/aggressive behavior. At that point I really didn’t have any better option, so I did.

The state of KR’s house was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. A large part of my decision to return here was KR’s behavior toward all 4 of our cats (he had 2, I had 2). He was overwhelmed with their care. Prior to leaving him, it was literally a full-time job for me to keep our home clean and care for them. Moving back to Sparta has proven to be even more challenging than I originally anticipated. I knew coming back here would be hard. I had no preconceived notion that KR had actually changed. I knew he hadn't; but I returned because I feared for our pets' well-being more than my own. I wanted to rescue them.

I've failed miserably.

How many losses can one person mourn at a time? All in 2019: My aunt P. died on March 29. My great-aunt R. died June 18. My cousin G. died June 27. KR’s cat, Sasha (who I loved as much as my own), died July 6. My cat, Moses, died September 10. Even the loss of my mother's house when it sold back in May devastated me. I still wasn't even over my mother's death in December 2017.

Back in July one of our cats, Sasha (13 years old), became terribly ill. In the 13 months I was away helping my sister with my mom's estate, Sasha lost so much weight -- close to 10 pounds, which is a lot for a cat. In the weeks leading up to her death, I took her to the vet a couple of times. They ran every test they could but couldn't determine the cause of her illness or loss of weight. The only other test they could have done was for cancer. The veterinarian explained that the cancer screening was expensive and that there really was no treatment even if she came up positive. The vet sent her home with a steroid and gastro med. Less than a week later on July 6th, she died in KR's arms on the way back to the vet.

My cat, Moses (19 years old), hadn't been doing well for a while now. He would oftentimes get confused and howl incessantly. I had to place puppy pads all over the house strategically because he was having problems making it to the litter box. He was barely eating and terribly lethargic. The Sunday night before he was euthanized, KR got right up in Moses' face and screamed at him at the top of his lungs to shut up. The next night, KR wrongly accused me of neglecting our cats, screaming at me to get off the computer and do something with my cat. Same as the night before, I gently picked up Moses and retreated to the bedroom with him to soothe both Moses and myself.

I completely broke down when I got to the veterinarian's office. The physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion of these past few years broke through and poured out of me like the tears flowing down my cheeks. I normally don't cry in front of other people; but I couldn't contain it any longer. Thankfully, this particular veterinarian was truly understanding and compassionate. He listened attentively and ran blood work to check Moses' kidney function, what he suspected to be the cause for Moses' 3 pound weight loss since his last visit not too long ago.

Moses' kidneys were failing. I had to euthanize my beloved 19-year-old cat, a pet who helped me through so much. Moses became my reason for waking up every morning. That was mainly because he was such a demanding little ball of sass, like "Woman, get out of bed and feed me," kind of thing. He was a strikingly handsome, solid black cat with gorgeous yellow-green eyes.

Moses was a fierce hunter in his younger days. He went through a period of time at one house where I lived where every night he begged to go outside right around dusk. A couple of hours later, he would jump up onto the window air conditioning unit and scratch on the glass to be let in, nine times out of ten with the spoils of his adventure clutched tightly between his teeth, mostly moles and mice. Once he brought a live one in and set it free in the kitchen before I could get it from him. I recognize this behavior as a loving gesture of my cat trying to teach me to hunt. Yes, I finally caught it after a full 15 minutes of frantic scrambling under his watchful eyes. I would swear that cat was laughing as hard as I was through the whole ordeal.

Another time, after we moved to Sparta, Moses caught a baby bunny and set it free inside the house unharmed. I had the backdoor open letting the house air out while I gave the cats some outdoor time and painted my toenails in the sunshine. I heard this awful screaming getting closer and closer and saw Moses dart past me through the open door with the source of the screaming in his mouth. He let it loose in the living room before I managed to stumble through the door, trying, unsuccessfully I might add, not to smear my freshly painted nails. That was the most precious hunting lesson Moses ever gave me. Later that night after I released it, I did notice the adult rabbits close by; so I can only hope that it was reunited with its family.

Moses was a joy. He was also very stubborn. He was half-feral with most anyone else but me. The vet even had a note in his chart that he wasn't exactly cooperative. But I loved Moses' attitude. He didn't take any shit from anybody and loved as fiercely as he hunted.

Unconditional love. That's what he taught me.

I had no idea until the day after his death how many times per day I glance back to his usual spot where he constantly slept these past 7 months. Every time I catch myself doing it, I remember he's gone and start crying again. My heart feels like it's breaking once again.

It doesn't matter that I didn't want to leave my cats. It doesn't matter than my sister refused my requests to bring my cats with me to my mom's house. It doesn't matter that I told her how abusive KR's behavior had become. It doesn't matter that I put my life on hold for those 13 months to help her with her duties of being named the executor of Mom's estate. My cats don't understand any of that.

I abandoned them.

Yet they forgave me.

That is proof of unconditional love.

I don’t know how to grieve so many losses. As KR prepares to move back to Michigan to be closer to his family, I’m stuck in this catatonic depression unable to force myself into action. It’s like sleep paralysis. When Mom’s house sold in May, I received half the money as an inheritance. I have enough money to rent a place of my own, but not enough to buy a permanent home. I’ll be starting over again completely, from scratch. This terrifies me. I need help.
Sorry that you've suffered so many losses

Moses sounds like a great cat. I'm glad you were able to have him.
But I loved Moses' attitude. He didn't take any shit from anybody and loved as fiercely as he hunted
This sounds like a quote from a romance novel :)
What kind of help do you need most? If you got the help you needed, what would that help be?


Well-Known Member
What kind of help do you need most? If you got the help you needed, what would that help be?
I think what I need most is emotional support, people in my life who lift me up rather than tear me down and encourage me to take the time to grieve and heal without pressuring me into following some arbitrary timeline to accomplish goals for a future that I don't even believe exists. I need the freedom to be "me." I was happiest when I could focus solely on creative projects and when I had the time and space to manage my mental health the way I needed to manage it, not the way some therapist or psychiatrist or family member or whoever else thinks I need to manage it. When I feel pressured by others, I can't accomplish anything. I shut down completely.

I need emotional support, freedom, time, and space.

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