When my Dad was dying I wasn’t prepared. I entered the robotic get yourself together and just deal cause I didn’t really know what was going on inside me cause the trauma was so deep. My Dad was my best friend. He was diagnosed with cancer and died in 11 days.
But, I recall day 9 of the time we spent together before he died on the 11th day. We were in the ICU for cancer treatment and it was March madness and I was trying to read the LA Times sports section but the room was too dark. So I told him I couldn’t see the print so I’ll just sit here. I brushed his hair across his face and took his hand in my hand and rested on the side of his bed.
Today, my cat is my best friend. He is nearing that time, and I find myself doing the same thing. I sit beside him and brush his hair on his head and rest close to him.
I remember after my Dad died I read all these books on the grieving process. The “steps” so to speak made zero sense to me. I think the “bargaining” step was the most annoying verbiage out of all of them but, I recall thinking, this is such a joke. Then when I came across people that were dealing with death, grieving, and mourning, I knew there was only one rule.
It is different for everyone. There isn’t a formula for dealing with death. How you intake the intensity of it is unique to you which might sound like you’re alone but I’d rather know I’m handling it on my terms versus confused about some stages of information that didn’t pertain to me.
I say this cause I’m experiencing it again with my cat, and something as simple as petting his hair reminds me of brushing my Dad’s hair, and it’s at those moments you realize how you interpret or handle pending death. It brings be some solace that I’ve been through it already with my Father and now, have to go through it with my pet, but to see the parallels reiterates that however you navigate through the process of losing someone, you have tools to better deal as your stages will resurface which are your own.
Something as mundane as petting my cat and brushing my Dad’s hair make me understand how I cope. So, no one can tell you how to deal with what is the worse aspect of the human condition, which is to grapple with death.
So, whether it’s your parent, a friend, a spouse, or your dog, do what works for you, cause it will help you with the process as you move forward in life.