We had to have our cat put down yesterday. She was only two years old, so it came as a huge shock to all of us. We are all coping with it in our own ways; Fairy is distracting herself with books and writing stories, I am crying buckets and welded to my duvet, Husband is musing about getting a memorial wind chime for our apple tree. Tickle, however, has been the biggest surprise. Tickle, is demonstrably and unashamedly sad.

Tickle doesn’t spend much time interacting with the cats, but I know he does love them, and considers them part of the family – whenever we go on holiday he tells me he misses them, and he’s still not quite sure why they don’t come with us. But that’s not why I am surprised by his grief. I’m surprised because it’s a really big emotion, and he is allowing it to exist in his body without feeling the need to block it out or run away.

When we first told him that Etta was poorly and wasn’t going to come home, he did run away. He ran to his bedroom, and shouted, screamed, and banged things. We told him it was OK to be sad, that we were sad too, and asked him if he’d like a cuddle. He did want one, and we cuddled together on the bed, he was screwing his face up and making crying noises – although not *actually* crying this is his way of showing that he wants to. I was crying, obviously. He kept saying “I don’t want Etta to die, please can she come home?” We sat for a while, just being sad together. He went off to play a bit. Then he came back, and we sat together being sad again. We explained that we were going to go and say goodbye to her, and he said he’d like to give her a kiss and say ‘get well soon’.

A black tortoiseshell Siamese car

Eventually he went off to play again, but he kept popping back to check on me. “Oh dear Mummy, what is the matter?” he’d ask. I would say “I’m sad about Etta.” Once he gave me his favourite blanket to cuddle. Another time he asked if he could get me anything, something to eat, or a drink? Then he took my water bottle downstairs and asked Husband to fill it up for me. Other times he just gave me a cuddle.

And, do you know what? He came to the vets, he said goodbye to Etta, and he gave her a kiss. Then he went with Gran for the afternoon to give Husband and I a bit of space to say a private goodbye. And not once, for the rest of the day, did he go loopy or disregulated. (He did a bit this morning, but that’s fair enough really!)

I am a firm believer in feeling whatever you feel. I didn’t try to hide my grief from Tickle yesterday, and I think that actually helped him to feel and accept his. I’m not saying that’s all it takes, as I’m fairly sure he would not have reacted like this a year ago. But it does make me realise that something we are doing is making a difference. He is – slowly – learning to sit with an uncomfortable feeling and be present with it, and that is a *huge* breakthrough.