Shrine honoring cat's life may ease grief

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: We recently had to put our cat down. We woke up one morning to the cat crying out in pain. We rushed him to the vet. He said that at best treatment might prolong the cat's life by three months. We did not want to see him suffer, so we chose to euthanize him. I am having a rough time! I cry when I am alone. I cry when I see pet commercials. I put away everything that reminds me of the cat. But the last sight of seeing the cat in pain plays over and over in my head. I spent most of the day with the cat since everyone else was at work or school. It's only been one week since his passing, so I hope things will get better. Do you have any suggestions?--So Sad

DEAR SAD: There is no loss quite like the loss of a pet; these animals keep us company through important life passages and are beloved witnesses to our human lives.

I understand your instinct to put away all of your cat's things, but it may help you now to memorialize your pet by creating a temporary shrine of sorts. Each family member can write down favorite things about him or memories of him; read their memories aloud and put the papers inside his bowl. The idea is to replace those traumatic last memories with much more lively memories of the animal's life.

Time will then do its job, which is to impose perspective. And then, when you're ready, I hope you will adopt another animal and give it the opportunity to share your life.

DEAR AMY: "Broken-hearted Father" was worried about his daughter, who was going through a terrible breakup with a fellow grad student. I agree with your advice to him, but I want to add that she should withdraw from school now, rather than later.--Formerly Heartbroken

DEAR FORMERLY: I agree the daughter should change schools, but I think she should try to tough out the semester.