Why the death of a beloved pet warrants a day off work
A woman – in this country, in 2019 – has been sacked because she was too upset to go to work after a loved one died. Outrageous, right?
Ok… what if I tell you that the loved one was a cat? Still outraged? Or has it just become ridiculous?
That’s the debate this incident has kicked off.
(Oh, and full disclosure – the cat was actually a dog… I just didn’t want to lose you straight away. I know it’s really hard to understand, but we have to remember that it takes all sorts, try not to be judgemental, and accept that some weirdos out there genuinely do like dogs.)
The woman in question has launched a campaign for employees in the UK to be given bereavement leave when an animal dies, which has been backed by thousands.
But it’s also started an argument about whether losing a pet is as hard as losing a person.
I’ve thrown more than one cat funeral in my time, and I have also lost my dad.
There’s no question which was worse. No offence, dad. Kidding, of course.
The problem is, as is so often the way, putting things in such black and white terms.
Is losing a pet as hard as losing a person? In most cases, probably not.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still difficult, and painful.
It’s not just a case of it being either as bad, or inconsequential. It isn’t black and white, it’s 50 shades of grief.
I’ve had cats from the age of five, and throughout my life.
I’ve grown up with them, spent probably more time with them than most humans, shared secrets (which they never told) and fully, properly loved them.
Most cats live a good 16 years, and that’s a long time to share your life with anyone.
If you weren’t upset when they were gone, you would be a robot.
Of course there will always be the kind of person who thinks, or even says, “Oh, come on, it’s only a cat.”
The kind of person who laughs when you mention a cat funeral.
The simplest way to deal with this kind of person? Don’t invite them to your cat’s funeral.
If they don’t get it, they don’t get it.
Trying to explain is a waste of time and energy.
If anything, feel sorry for them, because they are dead inside, and clearly not to be trusted in any way.
My son, Albie, pictured above, will be devastated when Major Ferguson and June, the cats who welcomed him home from the hospital, are no more.
I see the bond they share, and dread the moment sometimes, already.
I also wouldn’t have it any other way.
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