A cat can be trusted to purr when she [he] is pleased, which is more than can be said for human beings. ~William Ralph Inge (quotegarden.com)
The second word in the title is not a misspelling. Precious Pippy. King of home and hearth, loves to “knead” me like bread dough (and unfortunately I have some). It’s apparently good for him because his expressive, almond-shaped eyes take on a hypnotic look, and his purr gets deep and throaty. Pre-nap drill? Perhaps. At any rate it makes him sleepy, and he finds a quiet place to nap it off. Does it do anything for me? Not really. I try to set boundaries, you know, confine him to my thighs where he can give me some passive exercise, but he’s not happy unless he can can knead my marshmallow-y layers higher up. Sigh.
Perhaps this brings a smile to your lips, or you nod in agreement, if you have a “thigh master,” too. There was such an outpouring of responses from readers to a previous “Pippy” story. They described how their pets responded in a variety of ways, even if only to make them laugh . . . giving them some much needed “internal jogging” while lifting their spirits. Some readers described how their pets “found them,” and they became a member of the family. Other readers said that their cats come to snuggle when they are feeling sad. Somehow they know when we need them. Suggesting they “knead” us just as much as we need them. We might conclude that our pets provide “therapy” for free.
I am grateful that our pets give us unconditional love. Which begs the question: Why can’t people give the same? Maybe some of you have faithful friends and family who stand by loving you, accepting your pain, and allowing you to share your heartache whenever you feel the need. If so, you are indeed blessed. But then there are readers who might be wondering, has my suicide loss made me unlikable? I know this can happen because it happened to me. Apparently the length of my grief journey strained the boundaries of friendship, and they bailed.
If you, too, have lost friends after you buried someone precious to you, I am so sorry for your added pain. Suicide or other kinds of loss of our children is horrific enough, but loss of friendship adds another layer: I picture them as added dimensions to our pain, cascading like “falling dominoes”. Once the first one falls, the others topple after. It’s tough enough to be classified as a “survivor” after tragic loss. We deserve empathy and support, do we not? We may be forever changed, but we are most worthy and in need of real friendship, even more after our hearts are shattered.
Could it be that people fear death? I remember attending a fair number of funerals when I was a child. I didn’t know the people, really didn’t want to be there, but I was too young to stay home alone, so my parents took me along. Death seemed a scary thing; something I did not fully comprehend. As an adult, I lost my grandparents, then my parents. Each loss made me progressively sadder the closer I was to my loved one. At that point, I would have agreed with anyone who says, “grief is grief.” But since losing my firstborn to suicide, my view has been updated. Death to suicide has a far greater impact on the human spirit, don’t you agree? Losing one’s child is a pain like no other, and if that precious child chose to die, that kicks the pain even higher. Is it possible that this particular death frightens folks? But this isn’t about them. There is nothing to be afraid of. We aren’t contagious. We need friends like never before. If they can’t stick around, I respectfully offer my opinion: “Shame on them!”
If I haven’t been bold enough, let me add this: Anyone who can no longer be a friend after the tragic loss of your loved one was not really a friend in the first place. Perhaps we should call them “fair weather” companions or merely acquaintances, unworthy of the title “friends.” True friends come along side you in your pain. Perhaps they have a suitcase full of troubles of their own, but with one hand free, they ask if they can carry one of your suitcases for a while. This lightens your grief load while balancing theirs. You share your story while they respectfully listen. You may listen to their story, too. A bit of pain is purged. You share hugs. After a time you part company, knowing you will meet again, pick up where you left off, and once again share your stories. They hear you say, “I will be on this grief journey for the rest of my life,” and they respond with a nod. No, they cannot imagine the depth of your pain, but that does not keep them from being a friend. They seem to grasp that you need to be “kneaded” and they unselfishly offer unconditional love and a listening ear.
Perhaps you have a loving, caring friend. How blessed you are that you do! Other readers may not, but don’t give up. All we need is one, and just maybe it will be a cyber friend. We are survivors of the worst pain imaginable. But from this side of suicide, I know that all decent, caring, loving people can do the simplest task, and that is to earnestly, wholeheartedly listen.
~A good friend does not have to have experienced the loss of their child to provide comfort after you lose yours ~
Holley Gerth says, “I often get notes from people saying something like, ‘My friend/family member is going through a hard time but I don’t feel like I can help because I haven’t been through the same thing.’ Here’s my response: “You don’t have to experience the same storm to know what it’s like to get wet.”
I had barely sat down when Pippy jumped up on me and squirmed around until he had settled just right in my lap. He wanted to be near me, whether I had food or not. He looked deeply into my eyes with his soulful ones, as if he could read my heart. He craved “mama” time. Wouldn’t we love to have our friends crave time with us like our four-legged, furry friends do?
You know, Jesus can be the perfect friend we crave. In fact it was He who said, “Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go.” John 6:37 MSG
He doesn’t let go. I like that.