Jeter has been gone for more than a month, and it’s still such a fresh wound. I still haven’t gotten rid of his ottoman house and I really don’t know when I’ll be able to do so.

But rather than talking about my hoarding tendencies, I wanted to talk about something I’ve felt that I know a lot of you can relate to:  being embarrassed about my grief over my cat dying.

It’s such an unfair stigma to be under. I know the all-too-familiar quip of “You should get over it, it’s just a cat” or something just as cruel has been said to some of you. I have been very fortunate to be self-employed, as my only co-worker I have to interact with regularly is my husband, but I remember my office job days where someone would take a day off after pet loss, then be back the next day, expected to act as nothing happened.

Like their lives didn’t change abruptly. Like this living thing that was under your care and experienced so many things in your life with you is now gone and there isn’t a void in your heart. Like you didn’t lose something with a personality, with quirks, that had pains, that enjoyed your comfort (and sometimes enjoyed comforting you). 

Like you’re weird, sensitive, or overly emotional for crying for days on end. I remember the office gossip and the expectation for that person to just go on and get their work done.

And it’s not right. It's a toxic work culture that tries to silence your humanity and has become so prevalent that it now stems into our personal lives, too. 

Maybe you’ll read this when I first post it, or maybe you’ll stumble upon this later down the line when you’re suffering, so let me be the one to say:

You matter. 

Your feelings matter. 

Your grief matters and isn’t something to be ashamed of.

You decide how you move through the stages of grieving. That’s no one else’s right.

There are good days and bad, and I don’t know that I’ll ever stop fully grieving for my beloved Bub. I know there will be times where my grief will hit me suddenly and at the most inopportune time, like when I’m waiting to get on a plane or something. My therapist calls this a “grief punch,” the wave of pain and hurt that bubbles up abruptly and makes you deal with your emotions.

Truth be told, I’m not really sure how to end this post. I want to say something positive, but I’d just reiterate what I’ve said above. If you find this post when you’re looking for comfort in a time of loss, then I’m sorry for your pain. I hope you’re able to find your own way through and can rise above the unfair pressures that are placed on pet owners who are suffering through grief.

Feel free to tell your story in the comments.