So, in the process of coming to terms with Bagha’s death — or at least, moving forward in that direction — I’ve tried to identify what made him special and unique for me. You see, when losing a pet you’re as attached to as I was to Bagha, a lot of things get mixed up.
I think it helps to differentiate, for example, between the pain of being “petless” and the pain of losing this specific pet. Here are some of the levels I can make out:
- what it means for me to now be living completely alone (ie, “petless” => by extension, what having a pet — any pet — adds to my life)
- what made Bagha special, as compared to other cats (his personal caracteristics, pretty objectively)
- what made Bagha special for me, in terms of the relationship we had and what he meant to me.
I made a pretty long list in the days following his death. One of the reasons I’m doing this is that I have trouble sorting out the levels (even simply hoping they make sense). The idea is to identify what I am really grieving here (yeah, my cat of course, but let’s skip the obvious) and also — this is the difficult part for me — to pinpoint what remains for me of this feline relationship.
What made it worthwhile? What justifies or compensates the suffering when it ends? What is really hurting because of this particular loss, and what is just old stuff coming back to the surface? Because without that, the obvious conclusion to this much grief (and those who have been through separations of any type in their life can probably relate) is vowing never to put oneself in a situation that leaves the door open to suffering like this again. To put it clearly: to be able to love (or bond) you need to be able to grieve (to come to terms with loss).
I’ll dive into this exercise in another post. First of all, because it will be long — and second, because it’s not easy, and I think I have to take things little by little. Writing this up is the first step.