I try to keep things light and fun around here with cheerful content each day, but life isn’t always cheerful and light. And that reality came crashing into my lap just days ago, when my sweet little Gertie passed away at just three and a half years old.
To say it was unexpected feels like such an understatement. She was so young and (seemingly) healthy. Yet, one minute she was cuddled up next to me on the couch, like always, and the next minute, she was gone.
I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around it somehow, but all I can come up with are thoughts of how unfair it feels to not have been able to spend more time with her. I’ve lost pets before and it’s never been easy. But this one, this one is different.
The first night we brought Franz and Gertie home with us, Gertie had a runny and nose and would sneeze over and over again very quietly (and cutely). She sat in my lap until she fell asleep and then I moved her next to me on the couch so I could do some work. I brought my laptop up to the armrest and started typing… and before I knew it, I felt a soft little kitty crawling back onto my lap. She nestled her way underneath my laptop, into my crossed legs and stayed there until it was time for bed. She did this for countless days after that, long after the sniffles went away, until she was too big to fit in her favorite spot anymore.
And as she got older, when Jeff and I would come home from work each day, Gertie would be sitting in the window waiting, then come to greet me as I walked up the stairs, lay next to me on the couch each night until I was ready for bed (without fail), sleep right by my head at night. Sometimes she would purr so loudly, Jeff and I would make fun of her and tell her to ‘turn off her lawn mower’ at night because it would sometimes be hard to go to sleep, with her right next to us purring. And I honestly can’t believe that I’ll never hear that lawn mower purr again. Or stare into her slightly crossed eyes, pet her big mitten paws, rub her soft little belly…
I just don’t know how I’m truly going to be able to say goodbye to a family member who I thought would be with us for so much longer than she was able. If any of you have any recommendations for how to cope with a loss like this, please please let me know. I am so torn up – she was my little buddy and I already miss her more than I could have ever imagined.
Gertie – you were the most uniquely sweet and unusual kitty I have ever known. We were so lucky to have you in our lives and we will love you always.
42 comments | Click here to reply
There’s nothing like the loss of a pet when it’s your best friend. I’m so sorry!Anouk
I’m so sorry for your loss. I had a sweet little cat pass away too. He was just over 2 years old. The vet said he had kidney failure. This little guy was born in a junk yard and my daughter bought him home when he was really tiny. The vet said the mom cat was probably wild and didn’t eat very well when she was pregnant and kittens born to those cats usually don’t live long 🙁 It wasn’t long after my daughter came home with another kitten that looked just like him, he was left in a box at the pet store front door. Well he is 10 now and still the little love of my life. It’s always so hard to loose our fur babies and I feel the best thing to do is give another kitty who needs a home the love you have for animals. Feel better soon!Debbie Masson
Gertie sounds gorgeous, I just lost my cat of 4 years old a few months ago and I know what you are going through. All the habits are missed. Sending my love your way xxxHarri
This is such a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to little Gertie. I was fortunate enough to know her and these pictures bring tears to my eyes. She was special, to say the least and I’m so very sorry for your loss. Your stories are heartwarming and it’s quite evident that Gertie loved you as much as you loved her. My thoughts are with you and hope that you can heal and find comfort in knowing that Gertie’s life was full of love and contentment because of the special bond and love you two sharedKarin Fowler
I am so sorry and I know exactly how you feel…last week I’ve lost my beloved cat, Sofia. She was about to turn thirteen so she wasn’t as young as your Gertie, but she could still live a few years more. I’ve had cats living up to twenty or twenty-one years, but of course they were the exception, not the rule. Still, at whatever age they choose to go, it’s hard, always. My Sofia was sick, so I was able to get mentally ready, kind of, because you never really are, but to face a loss so sudden, it must be terrible. I would like to have the right words, but I don’t think there are. What I do to feel better is thinking about all those poor kitties still in shelters, or in the streets, with no home, no food…our pets were lucky, they had wonderful lives, and that’s the important thing. Gertie was very much loved and now she is pure light and energy. Much love to you, I hope you’ll feel better soon.bobbi
Sorry for your loss. What at cutie.Dorthe
So sad for you – all loved pets are almost like your childrenMoira Barlow
I am so sorry for your loss… gone too soon. xoxosara
My heart aches for you and the others who loved Gertie. Someone had poisoned our dog, Zoo-Zoo. We hadn’t wanted a new pet but this sweet gal was from a split home. She neeeded a temproary home. In the end she became a family member. lol
So, my heart wasn’t healed yet from losing our Zoo-Zoo when one day I come home to find a tiny kitten asleep on the couch. I was angry. I asked all human family memebers and all denied inviting this kitten to sleep on our couch.
When it woke up I put it out. Every chance it got it ran in the door. So time goes by and we fall in love with this rascal. He becomes known as Alekos. Everyone who came in our house fell in love with Alekos. I myself tried not to love him but he was irresistable to even people who didn’t like pets.
One day two years later and my husband finds him dead, just outside the garden gate. That was a year ago. I miss Jack and Zoo-Zoo. (dogs) Very much and always will but Alekos has a left a whole in my heart. It will never heal, he was just a special being.
My point to all this is that sometimes our connections are so strong and so overpowering that they won’t heal. The wound will scab over but not heal.
This is true for you and Gertie and me and Alekos.
We will have to live with this ache and longing for more time with them…Debra
Oh my heart goes out to you! We suddenly lost our sweet 5 year old kitty (Oscar) this past winter and felt heartbroken and blindsided because it was so unexpected. I wasn’t at all prepared to loose him and was surprised by the depth of the grief that ensued. Having been through that experience and knowing I will go through it again, this is what I learned:Kate
It is a terrible loss and don’t let anyone diminish your feelings, a pet is a family member and the pain we feel acknowledges that.
You will feel heartbroken and it’s uncomfortable to feel that sad but hang in there and know you WILL get through and heal.
Hold on to the fact that you provided a happy and safe home for your pet and that your kitty knew she was loved.
Give yourself some time and if it feels right, bring home a new kitty to love. This is not a replacement but a new chapter .
I will always miss Oscar but the grief isn’t as raw and I strongly believe (or hope) in an afterlife that includes our furry family members.
I’m so sorry for your loss!
Hi Brittni!Bruna Lourenco
This post broke my heart. I can only imagine the pain you’re in. I’ve lost an amazing kitty a few years ago and it’s really devastating. What helped me was to be greatful for all the lovely moments that we had together. I know my baby had a great life and I’m sure Gertie had one too! I hope you can find some confort in this thought. <3
I’m so sorry about your loss. It’s hard loosing a pet especially so unexpected and so young. She looks and sounds (in your story) to be a lovely cat! Wish you all the best. It might help to talk about it or, and maybe this sounds stupid, but I found it helpful, write her a letter and tell her how much you loved her and miss her etc.Evelien
It´s hard to loose a friend!Sabine from Germany
My heartfelt sympathy!
Sabine from WO(rms) in Germany
Brittni, I am so sorry about your sweet Gertie. How is Franz? Hugs, lots of hugs. Pat SPat Schwab
I’m so very sorry. Animals are like our babies. So sad to hear of any passing especially young ones.Deborah Amos
This made me incredibly emotional. I’m sorry for your loss. Losing a family member is devastating.Samantha (@PlanetBakeLife)
Gertie was absolutely beautiful, what a beautiful kitty and a beautiful soul. I hope that you can find some comfort in the time to come.
I am so sorry for your loss. It is SO hard to loose a pet. They are family and such important parts of our everyday life. Praying for you.Aimee
Im so sorry for your loss. I know exactly how you are feeling about now. I lost my girl Pekoe at age 18 months from Dry FIP. I had raised her from 3 days old as a foster after her mom was killed by a car. . I watched her 4 litter-mates die , I worked so hard feeding her thru an ng-tube and injecting IV fluids and antibiotics into her. She was my world. She thought I was her mommy. She didnt know she was a cat until we brought another rescue into our home. I never even thought shed ever die so young. You gave your girl a great, happy, secure life. And know she loved you. The sadness will stay with you always but your pain will lessen day by day. Good luck to you.Lisa
Hi! I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. It is so hard to lose a pet. I am crying as I write this because I have lost two sweet cats in the lastDebbie Fitch
several years. They were both very much loved, but they were much older than your adorable Gertie. It is difficult, but over time the pain is eventually replaced with fond memories of the time you shared with them. The fact that Gertie was so young and her death so unexpected makes the loss harder. Be kind to yourself. Take all the time you need to fully grieve her loss. Everyone is different and there is no formula for grieving over a beloved family member.
My vet has a page on his website where you can set up a memorial dedicated to your pet. Perhaps your vet has such a service. It’s a place to record photos and memories of Gertie. It will help to share your thoughts and feelings with others who have experienced the same thing. Take care and God bless you as you travel this road. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.
I’m so sorry for your loss. 🙁 I recently lost my little pup, and she was as big a part of my days as Gertie was for you. I’m still hurting weeks later, and I think a little bit of me always will be. You’re already doing the right thing. It helps a lot to look back at photos, tell her stories, and remember her. I keep my pup’s collar and tag on my desk where I can see it and hold it. It’s no replacement for my sweet girl, but it helps give me something concrete to connect to. Give yourself permission to cry and grieve for as long as you need to. This kind of heartache takes time. I don’t cry every day anymore, so healing will come. Take care, Brittni. I’ll be praying for you.Spring B.
Losing a cat–and so unexpectedly– is just heartbreaking. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. (I don’t comment often but your blog always makes me smile. I love everything you do here.)Steph R.
Oh, Brittni! I’m so sorry to hear that your Gertie passed away. That’s such a sweet story about how you developed a special bond in the early days and how it continued to grow over time. ((Hugs)) to you as you continue to process this loss.Kimberly
I am so sorry to hear of your loss, it’s so sad to lose a pet/family member but even more so when it’s untimely. You’ll always have the memories.Sam
Sending you so many hugs b!!Ashley | Sugar & Cloth
Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ve experienced this with some of my cats and it is the worst feeling.
What was helpful for me was collecting all their photos, creating a little shrine for them and lighting a candle to honor them. To talk to people about them. I never stop missing them, but the hurt dulls and is finally replaced by warm memories, more so than loss. But time takes time.
The ASPCA has a pet loss hotline if you feel like you need someone “anonymous” to talk to:jesse.anne.o
There are many forms of grief that are completely normal in the wake of the loss of a beloved pet. For support dealing with the loss of a pet, call our Pet Loss Hotline at (877) GRIEF-10.
I’m so sorry, Brittni. Pets truly are family and I think you need to take time to mourn Gertie as such. It may not be time yet, but I’ve always believed the best way to deal with the loss of a pet is to make room in your heart for another rescue. xoKelly
First of all, let me say how sorry I am for the loss of your precious, loving cat. There is nothing like the loss of a pet. We lost our beloved, quirky, cat (who thought he was a dog) two months ago, and it feels like I’ve been living in the Twilight Zone. But I’m getting stronger each day.
I’ve let myself cry whenever I feel like it. I couldn’t listen to music for awhile but found one or two things I could watch that comforted me (for me—episodes of The Office and New Girl–humor has been important). But for each person it’s different. For some people, keeping busy helps, for others reaching out to friends helps. For me it was a combination of time alone (when I felt like it) but staying engaged in my creative projects and friendships without overdoing it.
I’ve cleaned out almost every closet of my house. And most importantly, I’ve tried to take what my kitty taught me (unconditional love, life’s unexpected blessings, being there for the creatures you care about) and pay it forward. I do little things each day to honor him, in the tradition of the love he showed me. I planted a memorial garden for him, and I also ordered some concrete and marble hearts (and I cut out paper hearts) and put them all over the house and yard in places where he loved to be. This helped these areas to feel less empty and helped me to honor him.
Know that I am thinking about you as you grieve and heal.Kate Simmons
I’m sorry about your loss. Gertie was beautiful! I still miss my first cat April over a decade later, they’re all so special and unique. As for tips for coping, I hope you took a full day off at least to grieve, let it all out. It’ll get easier with time.Vanessa
I don’t know what to say other than I know this pain that can rip through you. Such a bond with a furry friend is a wonderful, magical thing. I am so sorry you have lost one of your family so soon. All the best xxxsarie
I’m so sorry for your loss! She was a very beautiful cat. I can understand the devastation of loosing a pet suddenly and know how hard it is. Two months ago my dog (who we had most of my childhood), Blitzen, passed away from cancer. It was aggressive so only 6 days after he was diagnosed he was gone. I wish I knew a way to cope. We have been getting pictures printed and making books on shutterfly. I’m getting a necklace on Etsy they have one where you can get their paw or nose print on a necklace. & another one from Ivybydesign that you send in a picture and can get a silhouette pendant. I’m ordering that one, way he’s always with me. When it’s sudden like that it’s so hard to wrap your head around it.Serena
Oh, I am so sorry about Gertie’s passing. Losing a furry baby is a horrible loss and takes time. I think it helps to let it out- talk about her, cry if you feel like it. Show extra love to your other furry babies. They will notice her absence and your sadness and will more than likely want to be near you. Sending good thoughts your way. She’s a beautiful little calico – ❤️Shannon
brittni — i am so so sorry for your horrible loss. i can’t even imagine how you’re feeling. my family has lost some pets unexpectedly but for her to be so young is different. time will help more than anything else. when my mom, brother and husband were devastated over their lost pets, they ended up getting new ones (which sounds so superficial but it really does help fill that void). sending my love to you guys and your tuxedo. xomolly
Tiny creatures leave the biggest holes when they leave. The love you gave Gertie was appreciated, I’m sure. Sending you best wishes for a healing heart…movita beaucoup
I’m so sorry for your loss. Something similar happened to me.
I had adopted my sweet Lily , my lovely foster fail. She came to me full grown but she was Teeny tiny, sneezing uncontrollably from an upper respiratory infection, and a limp from the recent surgery she had as the rescue had found her with a broken hip. I only had her one month when she unexpectedly died on the operating table when I brought her to the vet to get the pins in her hip removed. I was devastated. When I came home that day from the vet the couch was still indented with her body shape on her designated fav spot. I cried for days. I still tear when I see her photos. I’m tearing up now! And this was five years ago!!
I think you should allow yourself to grieve in whatever way feels right to you. To this day I have Lily’s Pictures framed and her ashes in a special urn with her fav toys. Try to surround yourself with people who understand the depths of your pain bc non pet parents just won’t get it. Talk about her as much as possible.
In the days following Lily’s death I felt her absence deeply and searched and searched for another cat to adopt. In the end I did somethings really “stupid” and made a grief purchase of a cat breed that I had admired for years (she is the only pet child I ever bought. Truly I am all about #adoptdontshop but I wanted full
Disclosure). I regret it bc I know millions of beautiful kitties get euthanized ever year but Im at peace with it bc I now Have Molly and she is my absolute love and when I do get her a companion it will be a kitty from the shelter.
I hope you’ll find comfort and peace in the knowledge that you gave your kitty the absolute best life while she was here on earth and you now have an angel looking over you.
Sending hugs, YukiYuki
I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I remember seeing Gertie on your snapchat and thinking that she was a very sweet cat always huddled up next to Franz. It’s amazing how much pets touch our lives in the short time they are with us and she was so lucky to have a loving owner as yourself. It’s tragic to hear she left us in such a sudden manner. Sending you lots of love and thoughtful prayers your way.Giselle @ the busy spatula
I don’t know what to say. I too have felt the loss of a deeply loved pet. My heart goes out to you <3Corin Price
I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. 🙁 It’s never easy losing a pet -a family member. It may not seem so at this time but time will heal your heart and until then -share Gertie with everyone. Sharing all her little quirks will help ease your heart too.Stephannie
I am sorry for your loss. We lost our beautiful Merlin when he was three, and I thought my heart had broken forever. I have no tips for how to get through it, simply that one day the pain starts to fade away. I will always miss him, but two years on the happy memories far outweigh the sadness xNatalie
What an adorable kitty, and a truly sad story. The hardest part about having a cat is having to say goodbye to it. I don’t know that I have any tips for you that will make it any easier, other than just the knowledge that each day will get a little easier for you. It will always be a sad memory, and there will never be a time when you don’t remember her, but it will hurt a little less and for a little shorter amount of time each day.
Writing about it helps, too. Share your feelings with whoever will listen.Emily
Oh. No. I am so sorry.Trish
I have no ideas about how to cope with your sudden Gertie loss at all.
Tortys and calicoes are the most adorable cats.
Time is the only thing that will make the pain less.
Much love and big hugs x
I am so very sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine loosing a sweet little friend like that after just a few years. She is beautiful.Karen
I am really sorry to hear of your loss, lovely Brittni. I have always wanted a pet cat and I can’t imagine how bad it would feel if it were to pass away. I remember seeing Gertie in one of your snapchat, she was adorable. If I were you, I would get a new one to fill the void and maybe that would help lessen the pain for the time being.
Hope you recover from your loss soon, much love! xoxoMarwa | Enthralling Gumption