On average, how long does it take to feel better in the grieving process?

Obviously the answer to the question is very personal and it depends on so many different aspects of the relationship between a person and another person or a person and their cat companion(s).

However, it is possible, it seems, to work out the average time in the grieving process at which a person starts to feel better. Feeling better does not necessarily mean the person stops grieving it just means that they are beginning to get over the loss of someone.

A study worked out that it takes two years, one month and four days on average for those who have lost someone close for them to start feeling better. The study was about people-to-people relationships but I wonder whether the same results could and should apply to people-to-companion animal relationships. I don’t see any reason why they should not.

The study found that men are able to bounce back more quickly than women. They took one year, nine months and 16 days for the initial pain and grief to pass compared two years, three months and 28 days for women. Middle-aged people took twice as long to feel better than those aged 16-24.

Anecdotally it is said that men are more able to get over grief more quickly because they are more able to start new relationships after a bereavement. However, this is probably wrong. Perhaps men just don’t want to show their emotions as much as women allow themselves to do.

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My experience tells me that, at least for me, the relationships that I have with my cats have been at least as strong as they have been with other people. I am sure that applies to most cat lovers. On the basis that that is correct, I would have to agree that the study is accurate because for me as it took years to get over the loss of my beloved first cat.

However, I have found that the time taken various between the cats. This indicates unfair favouritism. But it may not. Perhaps I am getting more used to the death of a cat companion. Most cat caretakers will experience grief on the passing of their cat several times or more because of the much shorter lifespan of domestic cats. Going through the experience again and again probably inures one to it. What do you think? Have you had the same experiences?

Some people say that you never actually get over the loss. You just manage to deal with it better so that it gradually fades away.

I would have thought that, on average, the time taken for a person to start feeling better on the death of their cat was considerably shorter than the 2+ years stated and it depends on the number of cats a person looks after. I’d be interested to know what experiences others have had.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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6 Responses

  1. Irish Cornaire says:

    Oh dam,my comment didnt even post and it was a long one,bollocks :O(

    • Michael Broad says:

      Sorry Irish. I don’t know what happened. The comments are 100% reliable but it can happen sometimes for a number of reasons.

  2. Michele S. says:

    We’re all different, so I’m not sure there is a yardstick by which we can measure our grief.

    For me, the period of mourning (the pain and tears) depends upon the bond I had with that particular cat and the circumstances surrounding their death.

    I think that just as with romantic relationships, we are simply more compatible with some cat personalities than others. When you have a cat you ‘click’ with, then the bond is even more special.

    It was at least 3 years before I could even think of Holly without crying. We’d been together 19 years and I couldn’t have loved her more if I’d given birth to her myself. Not only did I miss her like hell, I carried the guilt of her final day being her worst one. A very kind lady gave me an article on breaking the power of guilt which helped me finally come to terms with my loss. 10 years on, sometimes I still tear up when I hear a song which reminds me of her, but mainly I smile when I think of her and that’s a much more fitting tribute.

    6 months on I still miss Sophie very much. Even now, it seems hard to believe that she’s gone for good. It was cruel coincidence that she was put to sleep on almost the 10th anniversary of Holly’s death.

  3. Irish Cornaire says:

    Bugger,couldnt load up my fur babies!

  4. Dee (Florida) says:

    For me, 2 to 3 years sounds about right if our relationship was tight; perhaps, one year for a less bonded relationship.
    But, to be OK overall.. . never.
    Some losses change me forever, and I’ll never be the same as I was.

    • Michael says:

      I agree that some losses hurt too much. They leave a hole. I am not sure why some cats do that and some don’t.

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