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Grief Brain

We recently experienced a death in our family.

It hasn’t even been seven full days. Not even a week.

It was sudden. But not.

Expected. But not.

We knew it was coming but didn’t know quite when.

It could have happened two years ago.

Almost did.

It could have happened next month.

It won’t.

The family member we lost is our cat, Oliver.

Three snapshots:

I grab my keys, my mask, and a few cloth grocery bags and head to the store.

I need bananas and batata potatoes.

Oh, and orange juice for Judah. My husband.

I have the list in my phone, but it’s only three things. I’ll remember.

I’m about thirty feet from the front door of the store. I reach into my pocket and pull out my house keys.

I’m ten feet away and realize my keys won’t get me into the store. Nor will they stretch across my face and tuck behind my ears.

My mask is what I need. Not my keys.

The produce section is just inside the front door.

Bananas and batata potatoes.

Oh, and orange juice for Judah.

I wonder if the green grapes are on sale. Judah loves green grapes.

They’re $1.99 a pound. That’s good.

What did I come here for?

Right. Bananas and batata potatoes.

I grab the produce and head for the checkout line.

In line, I check my phone.

Oh, and orange juice for Judah.

Grief brain.


Judah is telling me about some changes happening at his work. They are reorganizing teams.

Will there be enough workers to make up the teams to accomplish the work?

“We need four teams. Four times four is twelve, so we should have enough people.”

Four times four is sixteen.

Grief brain.


We’re at the vet with Oliver. He is actively dying, and we have brought him here so they can ease his pain and help his body transition.

The vet reassures us this is the best thing we can do for him. Given his recent medical history and current state, this is the best thing.

The best thing.

The vet takes Oliver into the back of the building to put a port in him so he can administer the medicine.

Judah and I are alone in the exam room.

I am crying. We are grieving. Oliver is dying.

A woman comes in to let us know how much this will cost us.

The cost is in dollars. Not in tears or time or pain.

It’s fine. We don’t care how much it will cost.

She also tells us our options for cremation.

Do we want his ashes?


Do we want a patch of his fur?


Do we want a paw print?

A paw … print?

Um … no … we don’t.

I don’t hear the next question. I’m too distracted with my thoughts.

I just posted a blog post about our cat, Max, dying and having been faced with the decision of if we wanted one of his paws.

An actual paw.

With Max, he was already dead when we arrived at the vet’s office. I don’t remember being verbally asked these questions. I was simply asked to fill out the form and sign it.

Did we want his ashes?


Did we want a patch of his fur?


Did we want a paw?


Here we are in the same office. Only this time, she’s asking me:

Do you want a paw … print?

Grief brain.

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