Angel Gris Gris-pet loss
Cats,  Gris Gris,  Man Cat Mondays

Life After Loss: Remembering Gris Gris One Year Later

If you love cats, sharing makes us purrrr :-)

Gris Gris cat grave marker cat-portrait-gris gris Angel Gris Gris-pet loss

Four seasons, 12 months or one year has passed since our dear Gris Gris passed suddenly. It doesn’t matter how you quantify time: fast or slow, it passe, the heart heals or changes with every breath. We buried our gray boy in the garden on Dec. 29. A day not unlike today: warm enough to shovel dirt dressed in a sweater and no gloves. Week after week I’d visit his grave with or without the other cats and notice the changes. Leaves dried. Snow covered all traces of the grave if not the loss. Snow melted, buds, blossoms and blades of green poked through in spring. Ivy spread in a blanket of comfort in summer. Leaves turned yellow and withered again in the fall and here we are again. Older, wearier, wiser and somehow owning a larger, albeit weathered heart. When something we love dies, it’s hard to let go. Watching the changing cycles of nature helped me let go.

Layla Morgan Wilde-Merlin-Gris Gris grave

I re-read (with tear-blurred eyes) the heartfelt comments from our RIP post humbled and blessed by our big-hearted cat-loving community. Thank-you and many thanks for everyone who kindly and graciously participated in my pet loss research study. Phase 2 continues. If you have lost any species of pet in the past year and have not already participated but would like to, email me at [email protected] Pet loss in subject line.

Cat paws in snow


For some, a year is more than enough time to grieve. For others, it’s simply scratches the surface. For me, the worst passed within weeks. For months, I’d look out the window first thing in the morning to look at the grave (the photo above is the view).Then one day I didn’t and the grieving process shifted. Tears ebbed and flowed. The grieving journey remains private for me. I thought I’d write about it publicly but decided not to. At least not in extended form. For now. The rivulets of grief flowed into other losses (death of close friend’s father, my mother on the brink of death more than once, illness and mind-boggling challenges of all kinds. I am in no way out of the woods and I will need to make some serious choices in 2015.

The shifting sands of sadness has softened its brittle edges making it easier to let go and move on. All the cats have moved on. They no longer pine for their feline friend but on the anniversary of his death we strolled and stopped to visit his grave. We paid our respects. Domino appeared solemn. Odin raced up and down trees. Merlin happily sniffed the warmer air. They seemed to know something had shifted including having a new gray cat in the home; our one-eyed foster girl Nou Nou. She’s an unexpected joy despite her challenges and causing 896 new gray hairs. Gris Gris would approve. Not the gray hairs but opening our hearts and home to a cat who didn’t present well at the shelter. He was the poster boy for the joys of adopting less adoptable cats. Old, toothless, skittish and not a cuddle buddy or lapcat , he had his charms. For a quiet no muss no fuss cat he left large paw prints in our hearts. Those paw prints keep kneading, making it easier to soften our resolve about adopting again, eventually. The house felt emptier for a long time and it would have been easy to fill the empty space. God knows there are enough needy cats in shelters but it didn’t feel right to rush. It still doesn’t feel quite right but sooner or later the irresistible siren call of MEOW sounds and well, you know how it goes…life and love go on.

cat grave


  • Nicolas Parker

    There is no right or wrong way to deal with pet loss. Spend time With your friends and family or someone else who has gone through this similar phase. Or you can also make an Online pet memorial page for your pet to share your pet memories. It will be there forever and always.
    It was very difficult for me to cope after the loss of my beloved pup Misty. Miss u Misty:(

  • Elaine Hutzelman

    Remembering your Gris Gris along with you. Your pictures were a lovely tribute in memory of a loving cat. My own tears flow in memory of my 16 year old Siamese “Chino” who left me in September. My Christmas tree this year was a memorial to him, as he rests within my heart forever as such a devoted fur child.

  • Cathy Keisha

    Coming back to pay respects to Gris Gris. After Nicky and Autumn passed within 10 days of each other, the peeps waited almost 6 months to open their home to me. It took TW much longer to open her heart to me cos I wasn’t Nicky. She’s crying as she types his name. He was the total opposite of me. So loving … always purring. He was numb when he left, having spent all her tears on Autumn. Now she cries.

  • Senior duo

    Your words brought tears to my eyes, not for a dearly departed kitty, but a dearly departed childhood friend. My dog Max. Max lived to be a very senior dog. We adopted him from the shelter as a puppy, but they didn’t know his exact age. I’m guessing, when I had him put down with dignity, that he was pushing 20. He was a Doxie mix, but he had the heart of a lion. He would take on dogs twice his size and three times his weight and he would come out on top without a scratch. Ironically the only animal to ever best him was a cat. I had him put to sleep when I was in my mid-twenties, I am now 50 and reading your touching tribute to grief and love made me realize that you never really put aside your grief. You just learn to live life again and to put your grief in its proper place. You also showed me that it is okay to bring out that grief, experience it again with the sharpness dulled with time and the love of other fur babies. And then to gently put it to rest. Somehow I think that is what our pets would want.

  • Skeeter and Izzy

    The circle continues,unbroken. We each mourn and celebrate in our own way but it is good to be able to share some of what we feel in good times and bad in happiness and sadness. I think it helps us know that what we feel and how we feel it is ok. I mourn the loss of each little soul almost like it is my own little one and that is just the way I am. I feel the loss even if it is “just a stray” that has been hit on the road I shed a tear and send up a prayer for them. They were special even if no human ever knew it. Others never speak of their loss and that is ok too. There is no right or wrong way to face death and the emotions that it brings.
    Thank you Layla for a beautifully written post about Gris Gris and your journey in the circle. We send you our biggest hugs and purrs.
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut & Romeo ~>^..^<~

  • Chris Davis

    Such a loving tribute to dear Gris Gris, Layla. The beautiful images allow me to enter the magical world you’ve created for you and the kitties. I echo Bernadette’s words about allowing change to happen when one of our critters leaves us. There is great peace in surrendering…and often many tears.

  • Connie Marie

    My thoughts are with you and Gris Gris.
    A kitten though, like Nou Nou wil definitely give you challenges to keep
    your mind and body occupied.

  • maggie

    I guess I’m one of those who tries not to dwell on the loss and revisit the anniversary. Gracie’s been gone a year and a half. I went to my blog and read what I wrote then…and had to walk away from the computer for a while. Before leaving the room I looked down to the right of the desk where there was a soft high walled kitty bed where she used to lay while I worked. It’s gone now, but in my heart’s eye, Gracie is always there.
    Even though we all grieve in our own way, we all completely understand and share the loss.
    Just substitute “cat” for man.
    “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne

  • Annabelle

    You know I’ve walked my Grief Journey publicly. The emotions just spilled out, and they still do. But less now. Yes, indeed there is a shift. Subtle. Like you’re not looking out the window at Gris Gris grave site. One day ever so slightly you move into another direction. Whether you wanted to or now. It just …. happens. I have found that we do not know how to process Grief. People do not know what to say or do. Our Society has moved away from Loss and how to help the one who is Grieving. It saddens me to realize this and you hear it over and over again. It’s like once someone is gone, poof like magic it’s not spoken of again. But inside the one who feels the loss the deepest, there is no magical ending. Things are nearly wrapped up into a package with a pretty bow. It hurts for days, weeks, month, years or forever. A hole is there were once there was none. Yes, scar tissue forms, but it can be ripped off by the most innocuous of things. They say you must experience true and deep Grief to have your heart cracked wide open, for myself I found that to be true. Loss is deep and you can find yourself trapped in a maze. One day for most there comes a point, ever so slowly where it doesn’t hurt as much and the love overshadows the hurt. But the missing…ah now there’s the rub. That will always remain. Sorry for waxing on so but it’s a topic that touches me deeply. Every single time it happens.

    • Layla Morgan Wilde

      I applaud you for having the courage to grieve publicly and so eloquently. Our society remains uncomfortable with grief and loss and yet there are more resources than ever before to help those on their journey.

  • Bernadette

    His loss was such a shock. I remember when you brought him home to foster, and how sweet it was when he emerged from his own distance to join the family. The four boys were such an incredible group, and part of the grief is breaking that up as well, so many levels of loss. I have always found that, when I lose one of the cats who have integrated into our household and become “forever cats”, it signals a change in my life, as if they opened a door for me and in leaving I have no choice but allow change to happen. Sending love and light to weather the grief and the changes coming n the new year.

    PS: I have ot catch up on your foster kitty!

  • easy rider

    My tears were running as I saw the snow on Gri Gris’ place. Such anniversaries are not easy… I agree with you, life and love go on… but some things still hurt as if it was yesterday…

  • Sammy

    Sending our purrs and hugs on this anniversary day of Gris Gris moving on……grief takes it’s own time and can’t be rushed through for animals or humans. This is a beautifully written post and I agree that one day when you feel you can, you would do the whole subject an honor by expanding on your thoughts about grieving and loss.

    We’ll be thinking about all those who have gone over this past year including Gris Gris…….as we end one year and move into another………

    Hugs, Pam (and Sam)

  • Coccolino

    Layla that was so beautifully written. I hope you do write your experiences more publicly when you are ready because your words will surely help heal others’ pain. I can’t believe it has been a year. Sending you lots of hugs.

  • Fuzzy Tales

    Soft purrs and gentle hugs.

    It took our human about 18 months to process Chumley’s loss, and then Annie’s in her turn, and even now, like Sparkle’s human, she doesn’t want to remember too much, to dwell too deeply on the anniversaries of their deaths. She can’t.

    But…You are right. The bottom line is that life (and love) goes on, no matter what happens, even in the face of the most terrible losses, the kinds that we can only imagine. And still it goes on.


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