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I can’t overcome the loss of my pet cat after surgery

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time worker in my 50s. I haven’t been able to overcome the death of my pet cat.

He was a 10-month-old male cat that became a member of my family in June last year. I took him in for surgery to get neutered.

After the surgery, when he came out from under anesthesia, he suffered a stroke and died instantly.

He liked me more than any other member of my family. I hoped I would live with him until he became very old. However, he died as a result of the surgery, which I had him undergo for my convenience. I really regret what I did. Since he died, I’ve blamed myself and shed tears from loneliness.

Three years ago, I also lost an 8-year-old pet cat. I know from that experience that my sense of loss will fade as time goes by. However, this time, I actually killed a young cat who could have lived a long time otherwise. So I can’t escape my feelings of remorse.

Before the surgery, the vet told me it would involve very little risk, so I agreed to it. The outcome was so unbelievable that I still can’t adjust to it and recover from the mental blow. Please give me some good advice.

Y, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. Y:

When reading your letter, only one word came to mind — “prayer.”

That may sound too religious, but even though I don’t have much of a religious mind, it was all I thought of.

First, it’s impossible for us to accept the death of a loved one, regardless of how that person dies. That’s probably easy to understand if it’s a family member or good friend, but I think it’s the same for your beloved pet.

Nobody is to blame. I hesitate to say this, but you sincerely loved your pet and that caused the current situation. But who on earth would blame you?

If it’s impossible for you to accept his death, all you can do is accept the fact that you can’t recover from the loss of your cat and can’t escape the sadness. And I’d say your sadness will linger for some more time.

But it’s too cold to tell you to just endure the situation. So I’d tell you to pray to cope with it. Don’t pray for forgiveness, pray for the repose of the cat’s soul and thank it for giving you affection. I hope this will help relieve your anguish at least a little bit.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from July 7, 2015, issue)Speech

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