Grief and Change

5 Oct 2021

It’s been a time of small griefs and some changes in the Wednesday household.

Back at the end of August, one of our cats died. It was not unexpected; he had been failing for some time, and one Saturday evening he just slipped away quietly, curled in his box, with us and his brother keeping vigil by his side.

Last Monday, Patchy, one of our guineapigs died. Again, this was not a surprise. He was seven years old – a more than respectable age for a guineapig – and for six weeks he had been on daily medication. On Monday morning he lapped up his pain relief, refused his mint leaf, trundled into his house, and that was that.

The other changes have been happier.

My parents in law finally, in their mid-nineties, agreed to leave their big house and go into a (lovely) care home much nearer to us and to their daughter. This has meant an enormous burden of worry has been lifted from our shoulders.

And, on Saturday, we picked up Peaches, another elderly guineapig, to keep our Ruby company.

These changes mean new behaviours.

Our remaining cat misses his brother – as we do too – and has become much more affectionate. He was depressed for a while and neglected to groom himself, so his fur became matted, and I had to brush him every day. He has started to hunt more, so there have been almost daily offerings of rodents and birds, including a large pigeon, brought in to contribute to the family larder. When there were two cats, their food would disappear within seconds; now he eats a little and leaves some for later.

Peaches is naturally a bit scared. She will take some time to get used to her new home and to eating different food. She must get used to our ways and we must adjust the way we do things so she can be comfortable.

The biggest change is, of course, for my parents in law.

Even though the care home is beautifully equipped, and the staff are lovely, it’s not like home. They have their own room but not their own front door. Their only privacy is in their bedroom – all the social areas are shared. Their precious independence is gone. Like Peaches, they are now eating differently.

They have moved geographically and all the people they knew are a hundred miles away. They are rudderless, trying to cope with doing everything remotely and using unfamiliar technology. Online banking, for instance, is something they find difficult to comprehend, let alone set up and use effectively. They are facing all this with dignity and grace and, yes, with some complaints. They would not be human otherwise.

Change is said to be the only constant. As soon as we become used to something it changes. Change is always scary. I admire the way my cat, the guineapigs and especially my parents in law are handling it.

I wish us all the grace to cope so well.


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