Letting Go

As you know, we are soon moving to a new place in a new town.

And as you know, Malachi died.


I chose to bury Malachi in the yard beneath a tree here. It’s a tree where birds sing to us, and one of the homeless kitties often uses the tree to climb onto the roof of this house. Malachi liked to look out the window that faces that tree, so I felt it was appropriate.

Now I am feeling that was the wrong decision and I should have had him cremated, because now I will be leaving him behind.

This is me working through my grief, accepting he will not meow loudly at me from the carrier anymore, or stand by my feet when I eat, or nap from the high perch of the climber.

He will do all those things in my memories, but not physically. Malachi is gone.


I am devastated that he is not with us, but he is not being left behind. That is just me trying to make this all my fault. Same is with my thinking I should have known something was wrong. I should have took him to the vet sooner. I should have done this, or not done that, or… But Malachi had an annual physical and shots just 3 weeks ago, and he was just at the vet Friday. His muzzle was swollen. The vet said it was allergies and gave him a steroid shot to clear it up. And he was doing fine all weekend. The swelling dissipated. He was eating.

For me the worst part of losing a companion animal is the second-guessing myself after the fact. When I choose euthanization, I wonder if I chose too soon, or if something else could have been done. If my companion dies suddenly as Malachi did, I wonder if I ignored warning signs.

Life does go on. I have a new job to start, a new home to set up and lots of work to to do to get us into that new home. So thank you for letting me share with you my grief for a moment. It’s comforting to talk about this with those of you who understand.

made by a friend

54 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Dear Jenny, it is always so hard to lose our animals… I can almost understand you. But you know wherever you go, He will be with you. As you said, in your memories… Think like that dear Jenny. Good Luck for your new home, new town… My thoughts and my love for you all, nia

  2. All normal feelings. I lost my cat last September and it took months to not lose it when I saw one of his things. Still miss him. I also buried him in the yard. We are talking about downsizing to another home and there is this part of me, irrational though it may be, that would be sad to leave my pets (there are three others buried here) behind. In truth they will live in my heart forever. RIP Malachi. You gave him many great years.

  3. My thoughts are with you at this sad time. We all grieve for our pets when they pass away, but they are never forgotten, and it doesn’t matter where we are as they are forever with us in our memories.

  4. I understand. I’ve had similar regrets as well. and I’ve also regretted the ones I’d buried at homes long gone. I can’t change decisions of the past, but I began cremating all my passed pets some years ago. I’m glad you have Rumpy there to comfort you.

  5. Jen…we beat ourselves up over our choices all the time..it’s a weird way our brain works..too soon..not soon enough..i have had to make that choice recently..3 weeks today..my mind and heart wage a war i. cannot win…for me i made a decision based on how i how i would like my own power over my own life…hubby and i tell each other we made the right decision with Forrest..but we both still query it..we are human..it’s what we do..we have said goodbye to a dog before the choice made by his illness and at that time we could not afford to cremate him and did not have a place to bury him..still it hurts to this day..we have had Forrest cremated..but he is as absent physically as if we had left him elsewhere..but in spirit he is with us..i see him every corner i turn..the hurt is real..the war of mind real…but you are not alone..we feel your pain..and send you hugs and tell you to be kind to yourself..advice maybe i should take myself..xx

  6. I second-guess myself all the time. I try to rest in the hope that I endeavor to always do what’s right for them. I’m sending you lots of gentle love.

  7. My heart breaks for you and I can empathize with your feelings having lost so many pets through the years. It never gets easier and people who say “it was just a dog (or cat)” obviously just don’t get it. Just remember, Malachi was lucky to have you as a Mom and you gave him four years of love and life he wouldn’t have otherwise had. He will live on in your memory and through the love you will always share with current and future furry babies. There is no better nor more fitting tribute than to continue to love and rescue those pets who need us and who we need even more. Love, Annie

  8. Trust me, I understand what you’re doing through. I think all of us who deeply love our fur family, our fur children, face this. I sure do. All the questioning, wondering, but then if we went to the vet for every little thing we’d be broke and neurotic. I honestly feel all of this that you’re experiencing is the grieving process and the mind grasps onto it and drives us nuts with all the uncontrollable thoughts. I feel for you. This can’t be easy to have just lost him and now the move. My heart’s with you. Love, Paulette

  9. My belief is that the body is simply a “vehicle” for the soul. Malachi left his “vehicle” behind and moved on so his soul is happily where it should be. Where his body is, and what condition it is in, is understandably an issue with you, but I really don’t believe that Malachi shares your turmoil over it. Try and be happy for him. He is now in a wonderful place. 🙂

    1. I feel the same way. The fear is my grief and my guilt. Honestly, he doesn’t care ir he’d be happy in a space where he found joy.

  10. I’m so sorry for your loss. My cat Freddie had to euthanized and I buried in my backyard and then moved 3 years later. I asked myself the same questions. All that matters is you love him and will always remember him no matter where you are.

  11. I know exactly how you feel. One of my dogs, Tommy, died last November. It was so sudden…and until today I still second guess myself. Did I do everything that was possible to avoid his death? Should I have done more? Is an awful feeling.
    Take care and just keep the good memories and the love you gave him in his life. Take care and good luck with the moving.

  12. Don’t beat yourself up with what you could’ve or should’ve done. You did the best for Malachi, and that’s all any of us can do. I recently lost my dog Freda, and it broke my heart. It was very sudden and very hard to come to terms with. We all wonder if there was more we could have done, or try to think of warning signs that we might have missed etc. Our pets know we love them deeply, and for us to be there at their passing is a great blessing that they didn’t die alone.

    You are only leaving his physical body in his resting place, his spirit will live on in your heart. Take those special memories with you to your new home. Perhaps you could make a little memorial place in your new garden/yard, plant a special tree or flower in his memory? Good luck in your new home and your new job (a prayer answered, as I’d prayed for you a new job deal after reading another blog). Enjoy building some new memories in a new place; a new chapter. 🙂

  13. Jen…..I understand you….your feeling……”What if I would have done something at that time…..” This question happens to everyone who lost your precious….me, too….I still think a lot about Kevin….why we couldn’t save his life…we should have found much better vet…..but Kevin has never come back…whatever we regret…, so I decided to think that Kevin had a wonderful time with us….gave us lovely memories…..Malachi, too….of course he did’t expect his sudden death himself, but he must have had his lovely life with you, Jen. I’m very sure of it. Even if you bury him where you wouldn’t live anymore….his soul surly would follow you and your family. Jen….Malachi was so happy…..

  14. I can totally relate to what you are going through. When we lost Gray just over a year ago, I cried so much and wondered if I had had him checked sooner, more proactively would we still have him. It’s hard getting through that. We buried in our yard and planted a tree near him. It was the right thing to do. I know you’re torn about leaving Malachi behind. I pray you reach peace of mind about it. I think it’s a precious place to leave him.

    1. It’s not about the place. It’s about me not wanting to let go. The pain will be no less severe if his body was cremated. It is a body; it is not Malachi. And I think it’s human nature to second-guess ourselves.

      I had dogs Lucky and Sage cremated. I moved their ashes from the last home to this one. it feels like a noose around my neck. I should do something with the ashes but I hold onto them out of guilt. I’m not letting go of them either. Malachi deserves to be remembered in this happy place.

      1. I have the ashes of 4 of my dogs and 1 cat. When I get older than I am now I am going to set their ashes free in a place that I know they would love. I have moved many times and carry them with me but not ready to let them go until it is almost time for me to go. If I go before I set them free my son has instructed to set them free for me.

  15. hi jen, it’s okay to share with us your grief.. the loss of a beloved pet is really heartbreaking and painful.. i also experienced that grief and i was crying for months everytime i think about my johnny.. but eventually, our hearts will heal.. yes the pain is still there, we never forget but life goes on.. memory lives on inside our mind and heart forever.

  16. My Mom was scared she would feel the same way if we ever moved and that’s why she chose cremation for Mya and Khia. Mya was her first experience with cremation and that brought a whole set of grief in itself – Mya becoming nothing but ash (and the process to get to ash). At first, the little doghouses that holds Mya’s and Khia’s ashes was a type of security blanket for Mom. She talked to them, held them as she cried, and kissed them goodnight each night. But now, they are just there. Not ignored but the physical significance of the boxes isn’t as strong. She knows that Mya and Khia are more in her heart than in those boxes. Could Malachi have moved with you physically? Yes but honestly no more than he will now.

    As for the what-ifs, Mom still beats herself up with those. When she starts doing it, she literally has to tell herself out loud to stop. There’s nothing that can be done now.

    It’s obvious you were the best you could be for Malachi. All of your thoughts and feelings are normal and it’s okay to feel them but it’s our job to remind you that they’re just nagging thoughts. Continue to grieve and we’ll continue to support you. *ear licks* Noodle

  17. I do the same thing when a furkid passes. Take comfort in your memories and knowledge that Malachi knew he was loved and cared for. (((hugs)))

  18. jen, you know i had to put bj to sleep in january and i’m still having all of the questions and doubts that you describe. i keep wondering if i waited too long and did he suffer more. did i let the vet keep trying even when bj was getting worse. in the end, i loved him so much and did what i thought was best at the time. eyesight in hindsight is 20/20.

    malachi will always be with you. rumpy and june buggie, and the gang will be there for comfort.

    jen, there’s more that i would like to share, but typing with one hand it hard.

  19. My dear Jen, I’m very familiar with this ‘second-guessing’. It’s probably unavoidable. In the end what’s left is the bitterness of the absence of a being very dear and that is hard to deal with. We lost our girl back in September and it still feels as painful as it did back then. I hope they are all now resting in a happy place, full of the love we gave them. Sending you my thoughts and hugs.

  20. I have a poem that I will send you on Twitter. I understand what you are going through. I had Noshaty who wasn’t eating because fluids were filling his stomach. I still wonder if I took him too soon to the vet. I worked a swing shift and was up her without any family or close friends and another cat at home too. The nearest vets doing work with cats like this were at the University of Wisconsin at Madison – 200 or more miles away. I did the best I could.All I know is that no one could love him more or miss him more than I do. Great grief is the result of great love.

  21. I totally understand all that second-guessing. Ugh. It’s frustrating. You will never leave Malachi behind. When a friend is in your head and in your heart, that’s where it stays – forever.

  22. Dear Jen, I’m so sorry to hear about Malachi. We recently had to sell a house. Two of our much loved fur boys were buried under a tree in the bottom of the garden. We cried for them again. But they weren’t left behind, they are with us always.

    I have read your blog posts for many years now. You did well by Malachi and his sudden passing is a shock, but you did everything possible. He was loved and had a beautiful life. One of our dear fur boys got the all clear from the vet, yet died the same night. We all grieve our beautiful companions. We are lucky to have them for as long as we do. If only their lifespan matched ours. It seems so unfair.
    I wish you, Rumpy and the gang all the very best in your new home. Deepest condolences for the loss of Malachi.

    1. Yes. The spot was appropriate for him. This is not about him at all- it’s about me feeling the loss and not wanting to let go. I had DeDe cremated because a) she was too big to bury and b) I wanted her and Bubba to be together again one day. Having her ashes with me did not made it any easier to grieve her loss.

  23. Malachi would probably prefer to be buried in a place that’s familiar to him; hence, he probably wouldn’t be upset about being interred beneath that tree. More importantly, while the physical body is gone, the spirit always remains. Best of luck with the move and new job, Jen. Please keep us updated.

  24. Malachi was so lucky to spend his last years with you. We understand the second guessing, we’ve been going through the same thing in the 3 weeks that Maggie has been gone. Having her cremated didn’t help, I can see the box from here and she’s still gone.
    Good luck with the move, congrats on the new job! ❤

  25. Grieving is hard. We love our furries and miss them terribly when they have to go. But the love we shared and the fun memories will live on wherever we are. So Malachi will be with you as you move and make life changes.

  26. So sorry to hear about Malaki. The only plus in the whole thing seems to be that you didn’t have to make a decision about putting the dear boy to sleep. Keep calm and grieve on.

  27. I totally understand what you are saying …grieving can be so very hard. And then there is always .. ‘what if’ and ‘if only’. Don’t beat yourself up .. I’m sure you gave the Malachi loads of love and a wonderful life. Best of luck with your new job and move, thinking of you

  28. It’s so very hard. We try to make the very best decisions and then we second-guess ourselves and are so hard on ourselves after all that love and care and thought and effort. I’ve outlived multiple cats and dogs now, and am facing the not-too-distant death of my dear old Brindle Dog, and I also worked for several years as a vet tech, and another several years in an animal shelter. And one thing I have learned over the years is that there is no such thing, with a beloved pet, as euthanising too soon. There IS, however, such as thing as waiting too long. You made the best decision under heartbreaking circumstances for Malachi. Take care of yourself. The loss of a dear friend is always so wrenching. Good luck with the prep and the move. I love that Malachi’s body is buried by his tree. The rest of him will always be with you.

  29. It’s easy for me to say “don’t beat yourself up”. Especially since I’m still beating myself up about our first Scottie’s passing. Did we do the right thing, at the right time? What if we’d waited to make the decision? That was almost ten years ago and I still can’t think about it.

    But from what you’ve shared, it sounds as if you did everything right. And had no way of knowing what was to come.

    Please be kind to yourself.

  30. I had a cat( Ink Spot) pass away when I was 9 years old and my father buried her in our yard. A few years later my father sold the house and we move across the street. Well our old house was tore down and a small car dealership was built and I saw the area where my Ink Spot was resting in peace dug up and turned into a parking lot. I never buried any of my fur family again. Where I live now almost 50 years later a neighboring town are in dispute because of moving the people from original pioneer cemetery then they built the library on old cemetery property, now they want to put a parking lot on the remainder of the old cemetery. So I have learned that thee is no final resting place if the land is wanted for something.

  31. I went through this same experience (deciding to euthanize one of my cats) just last month and it is traumatizing…same when 6 years ago I had to go through it with my basset…I’m not sure I will ever get over it. Please know that you are not alone in feeling grief and doubt and, yes even the guilt. Feel your feelings. You are a good person doing the best you possibly can. I hope you feel better sooner than later and wish you good luck in your new job/home. ❤️

  32. I think second guessing is normal human nature because of how much we love our furry companions and want to do right by them. It isn’t easy and the grieving process is different for everyone but do what feels right for you whether it’s writing on the blog, etc.

  33. We’ve all been there, the second guessing compounds the grief and loss. I hope you may have been able to snip a lock of hair as a keepsake to take with you in your new environment, if not, you have photos and a lifetime of beautiful memories to comfort you as you begin the new chapter. That and your fur-iends sharing your loss. Digital hugs coming your way. ღ

  34. We are so sorry, Jen. No matter where you go, Malachi will be with you in spirit, and in your memories. Hugs, purrs and prayers to you, friend.

  35. I still regret burying my mom’s last cat at a place I don’t live anymore. I thought the land would stay with friends – it didn’t – and I’ll forever torture myself thinking of some stranger digging him up by accident. I went thousands into debt to keep him alive, but it wasn’t to be, and nothing was left for a cremation.

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