Life Derailed: Dealing with Grief

I wish this was a goal update post. It kind of is. But it is also a post to let you know I failed. And that’s okay.

Failure is only failure if I don’t learn from it. If you remember my post from earlier this year, I listed out all my lofty goals for 2019. I haven’t reached a single goal.

Not one.

Want to know what happened instead?

LIFE. Life happened. Grief happened.

Losing Stanley

My cat, Stanley, started showing signs of something being wrong back in April. He was throwing up excessively. Mind you, he had never thrown up much prior to this month. Cats are known for producing hairballs every once in a while, but Stanley never did.

He was a good cat.

After trying a few things, like monitoring him and switching his food, I chose to do an ultrasound in June.

The news was not good: he had swollen lymph nodes and his stomach lining was thicker than it should be. He had gastrointestinal lymphoma.

When money determines life or death

Getting the cancer diagnosis was one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my adult life. I guess that could been seen as lucky, that I haven’t dealt with anything worse. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult at the time. And I’m sure I’ll face other challenges in the future.

But for now, let’s focus on this moment.

Stanley was diagnosed with stomach cancer, a cancer with a low success rate in treatment. But he still seemed fine at home, other than the not eating and/or throwing up what he did eat.

How can you decide to kill something when there’s still possibly life left?

How can money be the only reason you wouldn’t try to help?

When money isn’t enough

This is my WHY. My why for pursuing alternate means of wealth. Not just income from a W-2 job, that I do enjoy. But also multiple streams of income. Because money should never be the reason someone shouldn’t live. Even if that someone is a dog or a cat. (And for all you non-animal lovers out there, you can stop reading and wait for my next post if you disagree with my viewpoint. My animals are my kids and I’d do anything for them.)

Also, millionaires have an average of 7 streams of income. Or so I’ve heard. So there’s that.

Preserve your memories

If there is one thing I learned, it is preserve your memories with your loved ones. Take lots of photos. Take lots of videos. Do what you always wanted with them.

I knew something was wrong back in April and I started to take more photos of Stanley than I usually did. I didn’t take many of him; he didn’t usually do anything that exciting like Mika. He didn’t play fetch, or play in general. He just loved me.

But looking back at the photos I do have, I wish I had more. I’m thankful for what I have, but you can never have too many photos or videos.

This is why I choose to get a pawprint tattoo with Stanley and Mika’s pawprints back in 2017. To enjoy them now because you never know when they’ll be gone. I just wasn’t expecting Stanley to leave me so soon.

Dealing with Grief

Take time

I can say I was lucky. Once I knew he had cancer, I also knew his time with me was limited, though I didn’t know how limited. I did my best to enjoy all the time I had with him. I took extra photos and videos (but not enough). I cuddled more. I was more present in the time I spent with him rather than just distracted by the computer or the tv.

Once he was gone, I took time to grieve. To just cry and sleep. To be depressed that my baby was gone. I also took time to tell Mika I still loved her, but was hurting from our loss. (She lost her big brother too.)

I found music that made me feel like I wanted to: sad, devastated, like the world had ended (even though I still had to wake up and go to work).

Anyone ever hear of Billie Eilish??? She was on repeat for a few weeks.

Appreciate your support network

One thing I can say about this experience is that I discovered how amazing my friends and family truly are. I know they are all awesome, but I was just overwhelmed by the amount of people that reached out to me.

I discovered I have several 3am friends. You know, the ones you can call at 3am no matter what and they’ll answer. (Of course that is dependent on them hearing their phone… but if you know the secret combo you can wake them up!)

I have “It’s been a long time since we talked, but I hope you’re okay” friends. I have friends that didn’t say anything, but sent a card so I could have my space.

I received cards, calls, texts, and even a sculpted clay figure of Stanley.

I’m so thankful for the amount of love I felt. Because I could be alone when I wanted, but I also knew that I wasn’t alone.

Get another cat

I probably jumped into considering a new family member a bit too soon, but I was seeing shadows. I’d see movement in the house and think it was Stanley and nothing was there.

I was worried about Mika being alone at home all day. Dogs are pack animals and she lost her pack member – even if he was a cat.

I was lonely – there was a hole in my life that needed filled.

So I confirmed that I could still have two pets with my landlord and I adopted a black kitten from Woods Humane Society.

Meet Binx

I’ve never had an almost all black cat, but I know they aren’t very popular with many people. The poor things get tortured just because of their fur color (much like many people. I’ll never understand racism, but that’s a whole other topic.)

Since I’m a kid of the 90’s, I tend to name my cats after Disney movies. I named him Binx, after Thackery Binx in Hocus Pocus. Which came out in 1993 by the way. (OMG I’m old!!)

He has been an amazing little baby. I’ve been reminded of the joy of having a kitten. He transitioned from being confined in the bathroom, to the bedroom, to running the whole house in the course of a month.

It took Mika about 5-6 weeks to fully accept him. While she was comfortable with Stanley, she had to adjust to her new baby brother. I must admit, I always wanted to get her a new baby brother, but I was hoping it would be a male Dutch Shepherd, not a kitten. Since I can’t have two dogs in my current living situation, Binx is the next best thing!

Now we’re still learning each other’s personality quirks: like his love of shredding toilet paper, jumping on the kitchen counter (bad kitty!), biting my nose when I sleep, and trying to escape out the front door.

I miss Stanley very much and I will never forget him (He’s tattooed on my side forever!). But I now have Binx and am fulfilled again.

Getting back on Track

Now that Binx has settled into the household well and Mika loves her new brother, it is time to get back on track. Back on track to reaching my financial goals. Back on track to reaching my health goals. Just back on track to building that Foundation I wanted this year to symbolize.

The first thing I am going to focus on is getting my finances back on track. Cancer treatment for cats is not cheap so paying off that credit card is priority.

Second thing I plan to look at while I’m paying off that card is meal prepping/planning. As of the time off this post, I’ve successfully meal prepped for the last three weeks. I just have to keep the trend up for the next few months! I’ll share this process in another post.

Third thing I’m going to tackle is increasing my income through my digital marketing agency. There is only so much I can cut out here at home, so I’m going to reach out to other businesses that could use my help. If you might be one of those people, feel free to reach out, or just lurk around. Haha!

What about you?!

This post has been a lot about me, but I wanted to share this with you so you know that it’s okay if you fell off track this year too. What matters is that you recognize it, make a plan to address it, and then act on that plan.

What were your goals this year that you haven’t reached yet? What are you going to do about it? Is it realistic to reach them with less than 60 days left of 2019? (While it’s important to reach for big goals, it’s also important to map out a realistic plan to get you to those goals.)

Please share your goals and your action plan to reach them before the end of 2019. I’d love to hear what you’re doing!

Until next time…

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