CatsMerlinMondays With MerlinSecrets of CatsShelter Cats

Death, Digital Diarrhea:Hardest Post Ever Written


Death, Digital Diarrhea and Hardest Post Ever Written and not necessarily in that order. All I know is that it’s 4:AM and I’ve struggled to write this for hours.

I’ve stirred the pot with dozens of titles and they all stink. Hold you nose and let’s dive in shall we? Do you want the good news or bad news first?

If you’re like me you’ll want the bad news first. If you rip of bandage off fast it hurts less. Maybe not, but at least once the bandage is off the wound can heal.

I made this pet loss graphic (below) about six months ago. I’d been preparing for Merlin to exit any day but he hadn’t.

Six months earlier Radish died and the makeshift shrine I’d made in the bathroom was falling apart. I couldn’t bear to remove it but it was time to rip off the bandage and move on.

Originally meant as temporary cat perch until Radish could recover and jump the way he used (I had high hopes for the sick, old boy after being adopted from the shelter) but he didn’t. The play perch, never used, became a back drop for palliative care and then a shrine to his memory. I’m still angry at the injustice, but every cat has a destiny and his was to crack my heart wide open.

It’ll be a year on June 18th that he died and I still can’t believe he’s gone. It’s World Pet Memorial Day today. If you have loved and loved a pet, this one is for you.


Which brings me to why I don’t want to write this post. After seven years of blogging (five years here) I’ve discovered the joy of not sharing. We live in the age of digital diarrhea, spewing out what we had for breakfast, sharing, over-sharing the instant any event happens.

What taped my mouth shut was death.

I didn’t want to grieve in public. I didn’t want dozens of condolences without the energy to respond to them. I didn’t want tributes or memorial graphics or blog hops. I wanted to take back my life to honor and mourn Merlin’s life privately. So I said nothing, until now. And even now I say only this: Death, this death finally taught what I most value about life. It isn’t found online but inside my soul. It’s one thing to know it but another to live it. That meant guarding and not sharing.

It’s a painful truth because I need my online community for my good news. I expected to launch my non-profit Kickstarter, Black Cats Tell, an anthology of positive black cat stories weeks ago, but life had other plans. The launch is TOMMORROW!

The last few months piled one obstacle after another resulting in the worst possible timing. It nearly did me in and I’m not ready to talk about it. Part of my reason is I haven’t reconciled how easy grieving Merlin is. I expected a tsunami of tears and complete devastation. Instead, the stress of everything (and I don’t mean just the Kickstarter) going wrong stripped me clean to the bone. It felt like the 19th nervous breakdown. Merlin however slipped away in the most peaceful death, just as he’d wanted, naturally. On a warm, sunny morning on a favorite pillow in the garden, facing west just like in the photo.

Despite the angst and external madness of the material world, I’ve been feeling peace, joy and love unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s so weird, it’s surreal. I can’t articulate it. In time, I will write about everything that happened. Oh, and the beautiful images…

I may be tight-lipped for now but Merlin has plenty to say. I promised he’d be blogging from the great beyond and he has. I suspect he’ll be sharing some new insights about life and death.

Image result for quote philosophy death


I know Merlin would have wanted good to come out of bad.

Look for a post about Black Cats Tell All soon. I don’t know exactly what time we go live but check out the Black Cats Tell All Kickstarter preview link with a video from me and a testimonial video from Chris Poole of Cole and Marmalade. Scroll down to see everything.

I’ll be tweaking additions, so please leave your feedback or suggestions there.

The graphic is shareable. You can make a difference in the lives of black cats by supporting our Kickstarter, right meow. Thank-you for being here right now.  Please note: a Kickstarter 30-day campaign is like an intense full time job, at the best of times. I will be unable to respond as promptly as usual to emails etc.

Support our Kickstarter_black_cats_tell_all

161 thoughts on “Death, Digital Diarrhea:Hardest Post Ever Written

  1. Quietude sometimes is not sorrow but reflection. I feel certain you honored his passing in your special way, a celebration of his life and the sorrow that he will not walk beside you again but reside inside your heart. Each special cats passing reminds us that we begin the relationship in spite of the fact that we may outlive our companions…May the new book honor all cats in a public way and help ease your grief…

  2. I’m so sorry to hear of Merlin. My heart aches with you as you grieve your special fur child. I know words don’t help at this time, but please know that he had a wonderful life with you and I believe he’s at the bridge watching over you like Sweet Praline did for me. I felt so alone after losing Praline (because I am single) and sometimes it felt like the walls were closing in on me. The cat bloggers helped me to survive, along with some special visits from Angel Praline after she crossed the bridge. I know I can’t be there to give you a physical hug, but I hope you can feel the virtual hugs I’m sending.

    I’m looking forward to Black Cats Tell All

  3. Me and mom are so sorry. We know no words to comfort you. Merlin is always be loved and in the heart of all friends and his fameowly.
    I send soft purrs & hugs to you

    Puddy & Mom

  4. I’m so sorry that you have lost Merlin to hold! He was a wonderful and tough old man. I’m grateful that he had an easy passing. I know from experience that the loss of our companions is hard, and that each loss is different. There seem to be as many types of grief as there are deaths/lives.
    Hugs for you! You are in my thoughts.

  5. R.I.P. Merlin the Magnificent! ((HUGS)) to you, Layla.
    “There is no higher calling than service to cats”.
    – Mugg

  6. Whatever has been piling on, I’m sorry; hope the light is shining for YOU again. Terribly sorry, too, about the passing of Merlin. He must have been a jewel. The peaceful feeling you have is a gift of colossal proportions. Yay!

    Looking forward to seeing more about your book!

  7. Speedy and I are sorry to hear of Merlin’s Passing,He was a grand handsome old cat who had the best life ever with you and I can understand you wanting to have some private time,Be well Layla,xx Rachel and Speedy

  8. You have our deepest sympathy, and we are so pleased Merlin passed the way he did, for you both. Here’s to your kickstarter doing well, I shall be participating as soon as we hear and have a link. purrs and hugs and love ERin & peep

  9. I just saw this and wanted to tell you how sorry I am that Merlin has passed. He touched so many lives with his. He lives on in all our hearts. So glad he had a lovely peaceful passing. We are all grieving with you in this loss. Sending Reiki light to you.


  10. I’m so sorry, Layla. Merlin was a grand old cat, and very much loved by all. Take whatever time you need.

    Best wishes for your kickstarter–I’m certainly looking forward to the book.

  11. I understand the importance of sharing milestones, good and bad. 🙂 So very happy to hear about Black Cats Tell All, truly wonderful. I’ve several friends who will honestly appreciate this work (black cat mommas/poppas), and I’ve shared with them as well as spread the news in general. Fur people are very good at cracking our hearts open wider so we can receive more lessons of Life Wisdom. My beloved Rogue passed in February at 14 years old. I knew it was coming. I mourned her passing for a solid three days before my heart began to ease. There are still days where I will reach for her and my eyes will tear, my heart crack a little wider. Love is like that, which may be why we carry it with us when we pass. Thank you, my dear friend, for sharing this very personal journey in any way. Sometimes we readers need to know that others see the same signposts along the way. As always…. wishing you laughter xo

  12. Layla, my heart goes out to you. Merlin can play with our Spenser on the Bridge — he loved cats. Hugs and love to you. I also love your Black Cats project, will get a copy of your book and review it on the new cat page I am managing!

  13. Layla, I only wanted to say that I as do all of us here understand the reality of a family member gone, and the deep deep love that you shared with him. He left in peace and I am so grateful for that, and with shining love from you.

    My deepest condolences Layla. I am so sorry. ?

  14. All is exactly as it needs to be. Know you are loved, Sweet boy is loved and missed. Time pads softly forward on sweet jelly bean paws, and the contracted grieving heart expands again in deeper, amazing ways. Gentle blessings…

    1. Carolyn, I was thinking of you while making the card since it was the time we both did Reiki on Merlin. Your help gave him some extra time but now all is just as it needs to be. Much love and gratitude xoxo

  15. Our eyes have been leaking since reading this yesterday, but we rejoice through our sadness that Merlin is now whole again, flying free in paradise with his sister Coco, brothers GrisGris and Radish. We send you and the entire family our love and sympathy, and thank you for sharing your soul mate with us over the years. His wisdom and zest for the simple pleasures in life taught us many lessons about life we will always remember. His manner of passing could not have been better and deserving of such a sweet, loving boy who had struggled so much in health his last years. To go in peace and a gentle way is comforting to know. We will never forget the exceptional being Merlin was and we were fortunate to have gotten to know and love.

    Aunt Beth, Clove, & Kaspars

  16. There are really no words, Layla, my heart is so full for you! Merlin was and is a very special kitty. And I totally understand your need for private grieving for your boy. Sending huge hugs xxx

  17. Heartbroken.

    Merlin was a cat we admired greatly here. We are Siamese fans and and so very glad he passed in peace. What a gift is that Layla. A real boon.

    I am hoping I will haave some investment money coming through so I can made a decent go at supporting the Kickstarter. In the mantime I will share and blog about it.

  18. My deepest condolences on the passing of Merlin, and I completely understand you wanting to grieve in private. Sending you hugs and purrs of comfort from our family to yours. xxx

  19. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved Merlin. Everyone has the right to mourn the way it feels best for him, so we respect the way you have chosen…of course! You made a very beautiful badge. He was loved deeply. Soft Pawkisses to comfort you <3 <3 <3

  20. I understand… and I say THANK YOU to my mentor and my hero who shared his feline wisdom with me. All paws and finger are crossed for Black Cats Tell All.

  21. We’re so sorry about Merlin. He had a fabulous life with you and the rest of his family. Grief is a personal thing, and it’s perfectly fine to grieve on your own, if that’s what you want to do.
    Our hearts go out to you,
    Buddy, Slash, & Karen (Mum)

  22. I am so very sorry for your loss…What a lovely, meaningful graphic for your precious Merlin…Wishing you comfort at this difficult time…Always loved, never forgotten, forever cherished=LOVE never dies…xoxo…J, Calle, Halle, Sukki, Mommy Cat

  23. I’m glad he went peacefully in his sleep. It sounds he enjoyed every minute of his life.
    My thoughts are with you. He is so special, my first blog kittie!
    Peace and Love be with you
    Connie Marie

  24. This hurts our and our mom’s heart so very much, especially to find out that Nellie and Merlin’s wedding occurred after his leaving you. We truly understand your need to grieve in private. Our animal blogging community is so loving and compassionate, but sometimes we just need our alone time. Please accept our love and condolences. We will gladly support your Kickstarter campaign. One of Mom’s special kitties, Thelma, was a black girl. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  25. When Merlin passed through the veil Molly was there to greet him. “Hey,” she purred, “my Mom knows your Mom! How about we watch over them together?” And so the journey continues, my friend. Ooodles of love…Chris

  26. We are so sorry, Layla. Merlin was (and is) an amazing friend, teacher and muse. We certainly understand your need to be private in your grief. Please know we are thinking of you, and sending thought and prayers of peace and love.

  27. *bows head respectfully* Bless Merlin. Such an amazing life. Your Black Cats Tell All will be welcome. My roomie feline is a four year old black panther cat named Sage. She has an interesting history, but not enough for a full story as she, like me, is an adult shelter rescue cat. Purrs for your new book.Mom L and I admire all that you do for adult shelter rescue cats like me and Sage

  28. Your story of love and loss and grief is so poignant.
    Sending love and hugs and purrs to try and comfort you even just a wee bit.

  29. Everyone walks through grief their own way, and your need for it to be private is totally understandable. I’m so glad that it was a peaceful thing for Merlin, who helped you bring so much wisdom to so many. And I’m very sorry for your loss.

  30. I am so very sorry for you. It is so hard when we loose feline family.

    Purrs from Heather and Ellie Mae O’Cat

  31. Layla, I am so sorry for your loss. I felt like I knew Merlin too and enjoyed Mondays with Merlin. He was such a character and always made me laugh. I hope the wonderful memories will sustain you thru your grief.

    I send my thoughts and purrayers to you and your family. I shed tears too when I read this post.We all loved Merlin too. I absolutely respect your privacy to grieve his loss. We all deal with grief differently. Our unique ways of grieving our loved ones, human or pet, show respect and love.

    Congratulations on your Black Cat anthology. I am sure Merlin will extend his magic to you beyond the Rainbow Bridge to help you with your project. I can’t wait to read it.

    Hugs <3

    1. Cynthia,
      Thank-you so much for your beautiful words of comfort. I never thought of Merlin as being funny but I guess he was in his own way. Thanks also for your good wishes for the black cat project and I hop you’re right about Merlin’s magic. I’m going to need some to make it happen!

  32. I’m heartbroken that Merlin is no longer with us but he sure had an extraordinary life. I wish you all the luck in the world with your book project…the cover is just exquisite.

  33. Merlin was exceptional. Cats like him come into our lives and share their unconditional love and their immeasurable strength. Nellie is very much like that for me. I grieved deeply when we heard of his passing and he will always have a special place in my heart.
    My dear friend, black cats are special to me as well. We can’t wait to learn more about and can’t wait for tomorrow’s post!
    My heart is with you.
    Love Barb

  34. Layla,

    I am truly sorry, and I understand your need to grieve for Merlin in your own way.
    He is , was, and always will be one of a kind, a companion who will never leave
    your side. Even though this was expected, it’s still hurts none the less. He will always be remembered, he will always be our friend, he will always be husband
    to Nellie, he will always be a huge part of the blogging world. I send hugs and love,
    as do the tabbies❤️❤️❤️

  35. I’m here to pay my respects to Merlin. *bows head* We’re still reeling with the events that unfolded this morning when TW turned on the radio at 5 a.m. when I got up for breakfast. That’s a gorgeous graphic on “Black Cats …” Wishing you all the sucess in the world.

  36. I’m so sorry for your loss! I’m glad that you were able to take the time to privately grieve as you wanted to. Sometimes we need those private moments.Merlin is in good company at the Rainbow Bridge with my beautiful Cinco. *hugs*

  37. I found the support of so many people a great help when Eric passed, but I understand your need to grieve in private. We each have to do it in the way that is best for us. I am truly sorry for your loss of a wonderful friend, companion and muse, but am thankful that he was able to leave on his own terms, at home with those he loved and surrounded by love.

  38. My old Black Cat Snarky crossed the Bridge June 7. She was 18.5 years old and just worn out. But we had shared 18 of those years, many ups and downs, lotsa joy and sorrows – many younger cats then she were waiting to greet her. You will continue to get up every morning because others are stilldepending on you.

  39. I am so sorry to hear about this, Layla… You were prepared for this, but I doubt that made sweet Merlin’s departure any easier for you.
    Cats teach us so many things. We learn, and we find comfort in them. Glad you are feeling peace, joy and love. I know that’s exactly what Merlin wanted you to have in your heart. Hugs, Tamago, Goro & Niko

  40. I grieve with you. You’ve shared your cats with us, their personalities, their quirks. We feel almost as if we know them. Hugs and prayers, miss Layla

  41. Please tell Merlin, if he has time , to say hello to my Tan’na. Just look for another old wise siamese, that will be him.
    I too understand the grieving. We each do it in our own way.
    All I can say, is much love to you Layla….. and Merlin , I thought perhaps you had left this physical realm, but your wisdom will go on and Mondays will forever be Mondays with Merlin.

  42. Sometimes you need to be private. I certainly need to grieve in private. I am sorry for your loss, but happy he went peacefully, knowing he was loved and not alone but part of a family.

      1. I know Radish will always have a place in your heart,and I’m sorry to admit I was thinking of Merliln at the time. My heart was heavy for your most recent loss. Radish was so fortunate to have a home and time with you. So was Merlin. Radish was only with you a short time and Merlin for many years. I know both losses were hard!

  43. I do understand Layla. Being private myself, I didn’t immediately share the news about my Jazz, and to this day, I can’t really share about Harley. But yes, sometimes with death comes a beautiful peace and relief. Merlin was so very cherished and such an old soul. He lived on his terms and he went on his terms. It honestly doesn’t get much better than that…

    My heart is with you… love and purrs…

  44. Merlin

    He walked beside me for a while
    I saw his light and heard his music.
    His love surrounded me with joy
    As years passed, his light grew dim,
    “I must walk on alone,” he said, “but, I’ll be with you,
    “See my music is in the night birds calling
    My brightness, in the stars above.”

    I walk alone where once we traveled,
    But still I feel the promise where he trod
    his light and music still surround me,
    Despite the fact that he has gone.

  45. I am so sorry that lovely Merlin is no longer physically with us. I think I knew somehow but didn’t realize until this moment what was playing with my mind.

    Grieving is very personal and one of the reasons I stopped blogging a couple of years ago. But take heart in all the love and support pouring out to you and your family. We all love Merlin no matter where he lives.

  46. We’re sending you soft, healing purrs and prayers. Grief takes many forms and is a process. We’re sorry Merlin has gone but we know you gave him a wonderful life and he will always be with you, in your dreams and in your heart.

    The Florida Furkids and Mom Sharon

  47. Peep #1 and I understand how and why you felt the need to not grieve in public. Grieving, by its very nature, is a private matter for the heart and the soul. Doing so with everyone watching can sometimes make the loss even harder. We understand why you needed some time to grieve privately and we are here for you now. Forever and always.


  48. Layla, I could go on and on as I often do but I won’t….just know that like everyone else, I’m glad Merlin left with your love shining the way for him. You gave him his “voice”, and he gave you so much in return. Somehow I think I felt him leave….in your dreams tell him Sammy and I love him – and Sam hopes Merlin will be the first happy face he sees one day…………

    Love……………..Pam and Sam

  49. We’re sorry fur your loss. Mommy has faced many deaths alone and couldn’t have survived sis Lexi’s without da luv and support of our online furiends. But we’re glad you had your time fur purrivate grievin’.

    Luv ya’


  50. Peace.

    I realized just this morning that Merlin had passed a few weeks ago but that you needed space……


    <3 <3 <3

      1. xoxox It is so sad…. Somehow, I felt he would continue ….longer….But he was a venerable old man who had conquered much…A very respectable age…..xoxoxo

      2. Kathryn, 21 was always my wish for the boy and the seven extra months, a bonus. Joe honestly thought he’d make it to 22 and beyond. Merlin appeared invincible but we’re all mortal xoxo

  51. I am so sorry for your loss. I do know how hard it is to lose those closest to us. Sometimes I feel pets are closer then humans can be. In 2 days it will be 4 years since I lost Princess Leinani. it still hurts like it was yesterday. But just know Merlin is looking down on you every day and wanting you to go on doing what you do best and know he loves you and appreciated all of the love you gave him. Big hugs to you.

  52. Layla, each one is different and bestows a different gift. With each loss, we find almost a reward in something just for us we didn’t even know we needed placed there right in our path so we don’t miss it. That is especially with the passing of an elder who takes a large portion of your life and makes it a memory. But he does not leave all at once, and lets go slowly so not to hurt you. Much love to you and yours, and best wishes in your new endeavors.

  53. Everybody needs to grieve in their own way. Like you, my human is a very private person and does not like to share a lot of personal stuff, but she found the cat blogging community so awesomely (with emphasis on AWE) supportive two years ago when Sparkle died. Whether you draw your strength from yourself or your community or both, know that you are doing it perfectly. Good luck on your anthology – my human knows firsthand what a lot of work it is!

    1. Unfortunately Merlin won’t have the same send-off or support as Sparkle did. That makes me sad. He deserved a big one but this was the price of privacy. Yes, it’s sure is a lot work putting an anthology together even without crowdsourcing!

  54. Grief is as individual as each of us is. I do offer you my deepest sympathies but I understand your need for privacy and doing your grief work in private. Today is Abby’s 11th Gotcha day, my third without her. So when I first started readying your post I thought how apropos. We all deal with things in the best way we know how, each thing teaches us how to handle the next going forward. Your new project sounds terrific and with my love of tuxies I have an especially fondness for black cats. We will all miss Merlin he was a good cat.

  55. Layla,
    we knew in our hearts that he was gone. The land of sunshine is a bit brighter with his beautiful aura adding to the light. We are so glad that Merlin and Nellie wed. Everyone needs that special someone. Even the greatest of wizards must pass into the light.
    We will all be together again and what a glourious day that will be! Until then we celebrate, we mourn and we remember.
    From our hearts and souls we send our love and purrs,
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut & the Angels >^..^^..^<~

  56. I am so sorry, I wish I had some other words of comfort, but I know there are none in times like these. Merlin had a wonderful life full of love and that love will always be there.
    I will be sharing about the Kickstarter and will donate to it. Sending you love, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  57. Grief is not always as we expect it to be Layla..Merlin left this world loved..and on his terms in a place he adored..what a blessing for simply do what your heart leads you to fo..replying to comments is never expected at a time like this..use your energies to do what fills you with love and light..our hearts are with you and we know your Black cats project will affect change..
    Merlin..sunny days with crystal clear sight..scents of flowers..warm breezes..bask enjoy and rejuvenate sweet have earned your place in Bev xxxx

  58. We send you lots of purrs as you celebrate the life of Merlin.

    Good luck with your black cat book project. The mom is sorry she never got around to contributing to it, but there was too much was going on. Maybe someday she’ll get around to sharing my story. ~Ernie

  59. We’re glad Merlin went peacefully in one of his favorite spot. No one can tell you how to grieve your furry friend, simply do what is the best for you, and take your time. You know we’re here for you. We send you tender purrs and gentle headbonks. Purrs

  60. One never knows how the death of a beloved pet affects us.
    Some passages are harder than others. Hugs 🙂
    We look forward to “Black Cats Tell All”
    Sounds like a wonderful project and we love black cats.
    We have Julie 🙂
    Purrs Georgia and Julie,
    Treasure and JJ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.