Remembering Big and Norman

I have written about loss before, specifically about how hard it is to go through and what you can do to get through the sadness and the reality of the new normal. Recently, I have experienced grief once again, with the loss of my beloved cat, Big, and my little lizard, Norman. I feel compelled to address the subject of grief again for those who have lost a loved one, be it animal or human. 

When we experience the loss of someone, or even something to which we have attached emotions, we experience physical pain. The Old English word for grief is heartsarnes which translates,  “soreness of the heart”. It is important to know that grief can cause physical pain or illness. Along with the sadness, we can experience physical symptoms, ranging from high blood pressure, to muscle aches and pains, to loss of appetite and fatigue. Headaches are another malady, which is often created by dehydration due to crying. 

Self-care is so difficult to think about when you are suffering the loss of a loved one.  Sometimes we feel guilt for finding pleasure in even the essential things that sustain us, such as food and sleep.  A definite need is to drink lots of water, even if you do not particularly care for it.  Water is a powerful element in healing. You should also get sleep at every opportunity you are given and do it without feeling guilty, as sleep is how our bodies repair themselves. It is also important to move: take a walk, clean the house or garage, organize a closet or a cabinet. When you experience a loss, you feel a lack of control over your circumstances. Many people, including myself, find focusing on things they do have control over helps to navigate this part of grieving. Additionally, reaching out to others or volunteering is a great way to get outside of yourself.  It has amazing therapeutic benefits for you and endless benefits to those you are helping.

Above all, allow yourself to feel how you feel. Grief is an emotion we must fully feel, as hard as it is to go through. It will resurface again if it is not addressed. There is no timeline on how long you should grieve, as everyone is different. If you find yourself still unable to get back to the things you love after approximately a month’s time, you may want to talk to a professional. Sharing how you are feeling helps get what you are holding inside, outside, which gives your body a better opportunity to heal.

In closing, I am so grateful to those who reached out to help me in my grief.  It can be a lonely place to be without friends and family who understand these guys were part of our lives daily. Some of us see our pets more often than we see our own families!  If you find yourself in a position where you do not know what to say or do to help someone who is grieving, it is ok to just say you are sorry, as that acknowledges they are experiencing pain. You can also send a flower or card if you are uncomfortable with speaking in times like this. I will always honor the memories of Big and Norman, and they can never be replaced. 

Find helpful Pet Loss Grief Support Resources at

By: Leslie Reid, Pet Pilgrimage Crematory and Memorials