My beloved kitty, Luna, was killed by a car last Wednesday. It's been an intense process of grieving and healing, and I'm only now slowly coming back to myself.
Here's the story of her death and our ritual responses to it. I share this with many thanks for the kind and loving support I've had through this time. The grief is easier to bear when I'm not alone with it.
I have very, very sad news.
My sweet kitty Luna was hit by a car and killed today.
It was sudden, and over very quickly for her. A neighbour came to get me and I was there right after it happened. I held her for hours as I cried, and her body is here now. My other cat, Milo and I are adjusting. Grieving is a process.
My heart is broken and I haven't cried this hard in a long time.
I've loved a lot of pets in my life, and this is the first traffic death. I know many of you have probably been through this before; it's not a club anyone wants to join.
Thank you so much for all the lovely and loving responses about Luna’s death yesterday. It’s been a very difficult time, but I’ve had lots of support, and we’ve been doing lots of ceremony. I can feel the healing happening, even in the grief.
Spending time with Luna’s body has been really important to help soften the shock and let the truth set in. The deep guttural sobs aren’t so frequent for me today, and there’s just a little bit more light.
We’re on our way to the crematorium this afternoon, to give Luna's body back to the elements.
Luna's death on Wednesday was such an incredible shock, and having time with her body was critical to my being able to come to terms with what had happened.
For the first 4-5 hours after we found her in the road, she was never not in someone's arms. Then, slowly we were able to move her to a spot on her favorite chair, but we could still pat her and talk to her. Around noon today (the day after it happened) in a sweet, simple ceremony, we anointed her body with oils, wrapped her in a shroud, and tucked tiny gifts and treats into the bundle with her. We spent the afternoon with her hidden in her wrap. Finally, late this afternoon, we drove her to the crematorium, and placed her in the retort ourselves. Each progressive step has helped me to allow, at a deeper level, the reality that she is gone. My heart and soul need to move slowly as I integrate this huge piece of information.
Many people don't know this, but after a cremation (animal or human) most of what is left in the retort is bones. They are charred, but basically still whole, and they're crushed to powder before the families are given the cremains. "Ashes" is a misnomer, because the furnace burns so hot that even ashes are incinerated.
The folks at the pet crematorium were lovely, and really genuinely cared about us and about Luna. I asked the woman there to take a picture of Luna's remains after the cremation. I wanted to see the next stage of letting go. It was important and helpful, in a soul-truth relaxing way, to see what was left of Luna's body after the fire had consumed it. Our skeletons are the last things that the elements take back, and that's what the photos show.
Seeing Luna's bones made me think of cultures who have practices of working directly with the bones, sometimes even months or years after a person's death. Healing around death is about having the support and capacity to be present to what's true, even if that truth is very difficult. There are few things more true to the soul than seeing or handling the bones of your ancestors. In a cultural context that guides and supports that process, I can see that it would be very healing. In that vein, I share these images with you here now.
I've found so much healing in demystifying what happens to our bodies after we die. Seeing, touching, and spending time with my Dad's body, and supporting clients to do the same has brought incredible peace to the grieving process. I was glad to be able to do this with my darling Luna.
When I'm working with families after a death, I talk about how important it is to remember all the things we love and will miss about the person who has died. There's a kind of inventory-taking that needs to happen, as people realize (and, hopefully, eventually accept and integrate) all the ways that this person is no longer in their lives.
It's no different with cats.
I've spent the evening remembering Luna and making this. It's a dense 2 minutes of all the ways she is loved and missed.
Thanks for giving me a place to share it.