Gutsy, Kendi’s kitten, died last week.
According to work by Elisabeth Kubler- Ross, she reiterates the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She believes that you never ‘get over’ the loss of your loved one, that you learn to live with it and you essentially rebuild yourself around the loss you’ve suffered. You will be whole again but never be the same again. And, you don’t even want to be the same again.
When Gutsy died, I cried and cried. It was around Kendi’s bath time and he hadn’t been feeling well on that particular day. I put him on my bed so that he can get a break from being pulled this way and that, and called the vet. I kept going back to my room to check on him and this one time, I got there and he was gasping for breath. He died as I watched. Kendi came over in her bath robe and toothbrush to see where I had gone. I called out for Mueni, her nanny, to come and get her because I was losing my mind. Kendi didn’t understand what had happened and that I was sad.
The next day, Martin took her on his knee to explain why Gutsy wasn’t around anymore.
Martin: Mama, have you noticed that Gutsy isn’t around anymore?
Kendi (looking around on the floor): pthii, pthii
Martin: Yes, pussy cat. He died and went to cat heaven
Kendi (now looking at Martin): Baba!
Martin: Yes, baby
Kendi (pointing at nowhere in particular): pthii, pthii
Martin: He’s not coming baby. He’s left us. He’s gone to cat heaven.
At this point, Kendi started getting down from her father’s knee to continue her life. ‘I guess that’s it?’ I said to Martin. ‘I guess it is’, Martin replied. And he got up and continued getting ready for work. I just rolled over in bed with the lump in my throat getting lumpier.
And that was the extent of the whole 5 stages of grief business. I was stuck between anger and depression. I couldn’t believe that this little kitten who we loved and cared for for only 2 weeks had left us. And not only that, but had left me heartbroken. It was only 2 weeks for pete’s sake! I hadn’t even realized I was falling in love.
Martin, I don’t even know if he knew there were any staged of grief.
Mueni flew through the stages and then moved on to acceptance I suppose.
Kendi had gone straight to acceptance.