The Saddest Day of My Life: How to Deal with the Loss of a Pet

DenaOctober 12, 2010
Me & Mika on the day she came home.

On Saturday, October 2, our cat—Mika—went outside before we left for a birthday party. We got home around 7:30 PM. Normally she would be there waiting for us, but this time she wasn’t. Sometimes she sleeps outside but she always comes home in the morning. So, I waited for her the next morning. She never came home.

We knew there was something very wrong. She has never been away for more than 12 hours and she hadn’t eaten on Saturday. Yesterday, I called the local shelters. I was on the phone with the woman and it was sort of a bad connection. At some point she said, “Yes. Animal control brought a cat in on Sunday matching that description.” My heart started racing out of my chest. I was so happy, excited, hopeful. I don’t recall how the conversation went next but I asked a question. And then the woman said: “She is in the freezer. I will have to look for her.”

It felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. I almost puked. My heart sank. I don’t know what happened next. She said that animal control bought her in in a bag, she was hit by a car on Macopin Road. This is near my house. I asked her what color eyes the cat has. I knew that if they were blue it was Mika. She said she would have to go to the freezer and check. I said I would call her back in 15 minutes.

I called back. She said, I am so sorry to say this, but I can’t find her. There are a lot of cats in there, but they are all dark.

My heart sank again. I proceeded to tell her that Mika is white but with grey rings and it is possible that—if frozen—she could appear dark. It was useless. She was taking down the information to make a card in the event that someone brought Mika in. I said I wanted to speak to the person that was there on Sunday when Mika was received.

She said the woman’s name was Gail. She would have Gail call me in the evening. Gail called around 6 or 7 on Monday night while Matthew and I were sitting on the couch. We went to the shelter on Tuesday night. The cat in the freezer was not Mika.

The rest of the week was a blur. I thought about her almost every second of the day. We put fliers in every mailbox in our neighborhood. I sent emails to every shelter in the county. I visited every shelter nearby. We got lots of calls and sightings. We spent nights with flashlights in hand, searching streets & houses. I called her name a million times.

I went on day after day with some small hope in my heart that she would come home. Even though I knew in my heart that she would not. I went to the door every morning and looked for her. I keep thinking that I heard her. I kept seeing her in shadows and in objects of similar shape/size.

In the middle of the week it was Autumn cold for the first time all year. Matthew wanted to close the basement windows. (She always came in through the basement windows at night.) I just looked at him. He said, “I will leave her windows open.” And although I had been alright at that moment, I lost it. I fell into a weeping pile of hysterics. I thought my eyes had gone dry. I thought I could cry no more. But somehow thick, fat, heavy tears started to escape from my eyes.

My baby girl sleeping.

He was so sorry. He kept apologizing, said he shouldn’t have said that. But I told him he said nothing wrong. This is going to happen. It’s going to keep happening. Bella is sad, too. She is waiting for her big sister to come home. But she is not coming home.

Somehow we made it through the week. I get off work early on Fridays and we spent the entire day hanging more fliers. We got some more calls so we went searching again. By Friday night we were completely exhausted. We were in bed by 9:30 pm. Just before 10 pm, the phone rang. A young man called from just up the street. He said he heard her in the back of the abandoned house next-door. We jumped out of bed. Threw clothes on blindly and ran out the door within seconds. We got there and started searching, calling for her. I don’t know how long we stayed. We searched every inch of that yard and beyond. I called and called, but she didn’t come.

We went home and went to sleep again. We slept fitfully. Matthew dreamt of her all night. I did, too. I dreamt twice that she came home to me. In the dreams, I was so happy. Then I woke up gasping, realizing that it was only a dream.

At 7:20 am, the phone rang again. It was Mike from the deli up the street. I hung the very first flier there. He had been looking at it all week. His voice was sad. He said, “A customer just brought in a cat, hit by a car. I have her here in a box.”

And I knew. I just knew that Mike of all people would know because he had been looking at her picture for so long. So we got right up, tired as we were, and we went. She was in a box behind the deli. I asked Matthew to look first. For a couple of seconds he was in shock, maybe denial. He said, “It’s not her. It looks like her, but it’s too light.” I knew what was happening. I went over to the box, dropped to my knees. It was my Mika. She was whiter than usual and more fluffy. She was still bleeding—slowly, not much—from her nose & mouth. It must have happened so shortly before we arrived.

I had brought a soft, pink towel that she loved to lay on. We covered her, put her in the truck, and brought her home. We cried. We did our best to keep it together. We went for a ride. Then we came home. Matthew dug a hole at the top of the yard, near to the forest where she loved to sit, hide, play, and hunt—one of her favorite places. We buried her with pink towel & a bunch of wildflowers from the yard.

It is not enough to say that my heart is broken is not enough. I am shattered. Some moments I don’t know if I can go on. I have cried hard and long. Sometimes I throw myself against the wall. Sometimes I shove my face so deep into fabric that I can’t breathe, I don’t want to breathe.

Mika was my best friend. She was the person/animal in this world that I loved the most. She was the one thing that kept me going when nothing else could. Even in my darkest, most desperate hours, I knew I was okay, I knew I had her. She was only 2 years and 3 months old. She was too young to be taken from me. My heart is heavy. I knew that this day would come to me eventually I just wish it hadn’t come so soon. I also know that there is no sense in wishing, in thinking about what could have been. I know that everything happens for a reason.

The thing is, I just loved her so much. She was the light in my life, the brightest light. She would let me hold her like a baby whenever I wanted to. She would let me snuggle her and cuddle her. She was the cat that I always dreamed of having. And now she is gone. I’ve said that I don’t want to go on. And I mean it. Some moments, I really don’t want to go on without her.

But… despite this tremendous pain, I will go on. Last night was extremely difficult. I take consolation in the fact that she is home now. I am grateful than we have her home and that we know what happened to her. I am grateful that she is resting in one of her favorite places in the world. I am grateful that I can go and visit her whenever I want to. I am grateful that I don’t have to go on wondering, that we have some resolution.

I have cried all week. And then yesterday, I cried more. I cried all day. I stopped for minutes here and there, but I cried every hour. I didn’t just cry. I wept. I fell asleep in the middle of the day because I was so exhausted. Then I got up, I went on. At night, when I laid down to sleep, I cried again. I needed desperately to sleep, but I couldn’t stop crying. So I calmed myself as best I could and I reached deep down into my spirit, deep down into the wells of strength and love that I call upon in times of desperation.

I quieted my mind and imagined what I would say to a close friend or family member who was in my shoes. And slowly, wisdom came to me. I knew what I needed to do to be okay. There are three steps to overcoming grief. I walked myself through these three steps last night.

How to Deal with Losing a Pet

1. Acceptance First, you must completely & wholeheartedly accept what has happened. You must accept the good & the bad. You must accept all of the things you did right & all of the things you did wrong. You must accept the brilliant memories & the devastation that comes along with loss.

Everything that is in your mind & heart now, you must accept.

2. Forgiveness The second step is forgiveness. With loss comes all of the pain emotions: blame, resentment, fear, anger, and so on. To overcome these emotions, our only option is forgiveness. In my case, I had to forgive myself, Matthew, and even Mika. The truth is that when tragedy strikes, there is no need for blame. Blaming will not lead to strength, to love, or to moving forward; but forgiveness will.

3. Love & Gratitude The final step is love. After I guided myself through the steps of acceptance & forgiveness, I focused all of my strength on flooding my heart with love. I honestly felt my heart filling up with love. I felt light streaming out of my heart in beams. I pooled every ounce of energy within me & sent as much love-energy into the Universe as I could. All the while, laying in bed, with my eyes closed.

When I was full & bursting with love, I harnessed all of my good memories with Mika. I remembered every time she made me smile, every time I made her purr. Our life together was so full of love. When I became full of love, there was no room in my heart for sadness, despair, and grief. I was (I am) so grateful for every moment I had with her. Gratitude comes with love.

Comments (18)

  • Cindy

    October 12, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Dena, so sorry for your loss. Ronnie just lost his Rottweiler in August, he’s still grieving – ever so silently. I feel your sadness and wanted you to know I’m thinking of you. I will share your story with Ronnie to cheer him. —we just started talking about adopting another pup–we’ll see what fate brings to our door, and you too?! 🙂
    Much love,
    Cousin Cindy

    1. Dena

      October 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm

      @ Cindy – Thank you so much. It means so much to know that I am not alone. I never knew it would be so hard. 🙁

      We were searching for her all last week which caused a delay in my sending the book. I put it in the mail Friday morning. You should have it soon.

      Thanks again. XOXO

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    evolution you | The Saddest Day of My Life

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    evolution you | How to Deal with the Loss of a Pet

  • Andra Watkins

    October 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Dena, your post breaks my heart. It is never time to lose someone we love, be it a pet, a friend or our partner in life. Cry as much as you want, because it shows what a giving, incredible person you are. I’ve walked this road myself – more than once – and you’ll never forget Mika. You’re in my thoughts, dear. xo

    1. Dena

      October 13, 2010 at 9:23 am

      @ Andra – Thank you so much, love. Your compassion means so much to me. You are right, is is never time to lose someone we love. I read this quote this morning & it absolutely filled me with peace:

      “Be life long or short, its completeness depends on what it was lived for.” —David Starr Jordan

      My little girl lived the fullest, sweetest love a kitty could ever live. 🙂

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 12, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Finally posted the story of the saddest day of my life. Also the reason why I wasn't around last week. :*(

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 13, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    evolution you | The Saddest Day of My Life

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 13, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    my cat was hit by a car on saturday. saddest day of my life:

  • Master of My Domain « I Cilantro Cilantro!

    October 20, 2010 at 6:03 am

    […] a lot lately. She’s been on my mind because she recently lost a pet. Reading about her ordeal on her blog made me weep, because I could intimately […]

  • Annie

    October 29, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I’ve cried more tears over pets that I’ve lost than I have over humans. The pain is brutal, but I’d do all over again, with every pet I’ve ever loved and who loved me. That fact you’ve had it twice in one month and with pets that were so young is horrible. We don’t know each other – this is the first time I’ve read your blog. But your story moved me to tears and I’m still sniffing as I write this. I’ve always worked on the theory that as long as I’m alive my pets will live on, in my memories. Take care of yourself.

    1. Dena

      October 29, 2010 at 7:08 pm

      @ Annie – Thank you so much for sharing & for visiting. You are right. The pain of losing a pet is a distinct pain–unimaginable until you actually go through it. It is different than any other kind of loss. The bonds that we form with our pets go beyond words.

      I am so glad that you made it here and I hope that you will visit again. XO

  • Maria

    October 30, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I’m so sorry.

    I just lost one of my dogs about a week ago….I’ve had her since I was 9-years-old (I’m 19 now). She was born right in my living room. It’s been one of the worst things I’ve had to deal with (which to some people may seem odd, considering some other things I’ve had to deal with in my life). But we must live on. Time, life, doesn’t stop for us.
    It’s okay to be sad.

    1. Dena

      October 31, 2010 at 8:48 am

      @ Maria – Ugh. It is heartbreaking & clearly you know what I am going through. I am so sorry that you’ve had to endure this pain, too. I am grateful though that you are handling it so well. Your words and wise & inspiring–“Time, life, doesn’t stop…It’s okay to be sad.” You are so right, love.

      Thank you for being here. It means so much to me.


  • Until We Meet Again, Grandma: Evolving Thoughts on Death | evolution you

    February 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    […] would go on. But then it happened. On October 2, 2010, my cat Mika went missing. Seven days later, she was hit by a car a couple of miles away from our home. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I came face to face with a pain that I never knew […]

  • Nic

    October 25, 2015 at 4:35 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Nearly the exact same thing happened to my Tucker last night (box and all).

    I’ve never felt so crushed before, but this post gavr me a little bit of solace. Thank you.

  • drake

    March 4, 2018 at 5:57 am

    i feel you. powerful post. so sorry for ur pain and loss. may god rest your soul mika. i just lost my 22 year old cat, had to put her down. held her in my arms until she looked up at me and took her last dying breath as that venom filled her veins (euthenized). imagine having to put your own child to sleep by lethal injection, while holding them in your arms saying good bye and to go to sleep now, its gonna be alright…words cannot even describe. she was my sister, then became my daughter. we got her when i was just 10 years old and im 31 bobbie ill see u on the other side.

    thanks for sharing

  • AK

    October 6, 2019 at 4:58 am

    Your post and story made me cry.I have been wandering around the web trying to make sense of the pain .What struck me was the day of your loss is same as mine.I don’t know if you have moved on as this post is quite old .I look forward to hearing from you.

Leave a Reply to Dena Cancel reply

Prev Post

Review: Muhammad by Deepak Chopra

Next Post

Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain