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AdviceHey, Bonita!

My Cat Died, and I’m Devastated

Dear Bonita,

I am going to bring up the subject of bereavement, which I know is uncommon in your column.

I have lived near Athens for over a year, and I avidly seek out Flagpole; the first thing I do is read your column and enjoy it very much.

I moved here from Miami, partly because of my 91-year-old mother who has deteriorated a lot. Needless to say, I am still undergoing a kind of culture shock, especially because I live in the middle of the woods near Carlton in a cabin, so I’m pretty isolated. I am Cuban and feel out of my element, and have made only one friend in Athens. I’m a caregiver to my mother, which is very stressful for strange reasons that I won’t go into.

Retired from many years of social and counseling work, I’m a practicing astrologer and work out of my home. I live with my family of cats. Recently, my dearest, beautiful, almost human cat Chucuti died. He was only 6 years old, suddenly got sick and went into extreme kidney failure in one week, so it’s all very traumatic and unexpected. I’ve just gone through seven weeks of nursing him constantly, hydrating him and praying a lot that he would live. Not knowing what happened to him makes it all worse, and I cannot accept the fact that the universe took him from me. He was a very loving, affectionate, intelligent cat who made me laugh a lot. I find I have no way to replace this.

I’m physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. I have lost 15 pounds. I think other people going through similar experiences can relate to this. The grieving process is complicated, because some friends do not consider the loss of a cat as very important and cannot relate/empathize.

At any rate, I feel I need some kind of support system and don’t know how to go about finding that. My two sons live in Arizona and Spain, and my family here is not supportive. Any suggestions from you will be appreciated.

Thank you,

Maria

Dear Maria,

Thank you for being a devoted reader, and I also want to offer my deepest condolences for Chucuti’s passing. You say that most people wave off the loss of an animal friend, but you’d be surprised how compassionate people can be when faced with a friend who is hurting like you are right now. Then again, you’re very isolated and only have one friend, and I hope that friend isn’t being a jerk to you, seeing as how you’re already feeling this way.

You seem to be counting on people dismissing or minimizing your feelings and experiences, and that’s unfortunate. It speaks a lot to the quality of people you’ve had around you in the past, and I’m sorry for that. You definitely need someone around to support you through your grief and recovery. I agree, Maria: It’s time for you to meet new people.

Start by accompanying your friend to social events. Ease into it, though, and start with relaxed environments like barbecues or sporting events—chill stuff that requires less social posturing and more socializing. I know Athens is a big change from Miami, where a Cuban astrologer is probably a drop in a flood, but I’m happy to inform you that Athens has both very active Latinx and crunchy scenes. I don’t know if your interest in astrology extends into religion and whatnot, but Athens Area Pagans would be a good organization to reach out to for finding other people who share that particular interest.

I reached out to people I know in the Latinx community, and they mentioned Athens Latin, which hosts lots of after-dark events downtown and beyond. If dance parties and DJs aren’t your scene, you might enjoy something more laid back like Comida for Community, which is a meal and a fundraiser that happens at Little Kings to benefit local families and support Dignidad Inmigrante en Athens, a local immigrant rights group. There’s amazing Latin food, great music and lots of people of all ages and stripes who come out for it. Keep an eye out for the event on Facebook, as it usually happens on the fly.

Need advice? Email advice@flagpole.com, use our anonymous form, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.

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