We are lucky to have a garden. It offers our son’s two cats, who died a few years apart, a completely natural burial site, which we have marked with a few heathers and a handful of shells which spontaneously encourage us to avoid trampling on this square. Memory passes through everything, including the feet.
When my children were… children, it was with their grandmother in the parks where she liked to take them that the ceremonials took place if the hamster or mandarin of the moment died. We saw this as a repetition, bearable for a child, of the bereavements he would have to face. With a loving adult, who had seen others, he could give this goodbye its full place and nothing but its place.
Like all of us surely, I could – and I would like! – tell here the thousand and one stories of animals which have embellished and still embellish the life of our family. The pages published Tuesday in La Croix (1) would be a good pretext to let me go there. We hold back so much when it comes to animals! If I gave it a go, I would start with the summer story of the little hedgehog whose fall into the water at dawn set off the swimming pool alarm, throwing the entire neighborhood out of bed… We are all, thanks to Marcel Aymé, Delphine or Marinette. Like theirs, our life is secretly populated by animals full of wisdom and fun, and in the hundreds of hours I spent reading books aloud to my children and those of others, those that were devoted to Tales of the Perched Cat are my favorites.
What do we mean when we say “loving animals”? Of those in the first circle, who have their napkin ring at our table? From the second circle, formed by the animals in the immediate environment, the neighborhood cats, the furtive deer in the forest, the dolphins in the sea or the harriers in the sky, which we follow with binoculars? Or animals in general, which our lifestyle tortures and massacres? When it comes to animal mourning, we will stick to the first circle. I read with surprise that, “in the run-up to the last legislative elections in June 2022, the Animalist Party pushed for the establishment of a day off following the loss of an animal”. I wonder how this claim is justified. There are many sorrows in one’s life, and if the biggest ones have to translate into days off, as far as I’m concerned, some years I would barely have had time to go to the office between two compassionate leaves. Further in the same article, these words from a witness: “Sometimes, the loss of your animal with whom you spent fifteen years of life is more painful than that of your great-grandmother. » Between the contempt of our society for our animals, which pushes us to apologize when we evoke the sorrow of having lost the one who kept us so well company, and the loss of reference points which leads us to compare the incomparable, there must be have a way to love your dog or cat without shame but without getting lost. Of course the loss of our dog can weigh heavier on our heart than that of a person who would be allied to us but whom we barely knew or not at all. This is no reason to bring together two events that have nothing to do with each other. The fall of a century-old tree in the middle of the lawn or the demolition of our childhood home can also cause real distress, what measuring instrument will we use to judge the number of days of leave to be granted? Leave for family bereavement is mainly there to allow employees to cope with the multiple obligations that accompany the death of a close relative, without the loss of salary being added to the costs associated with a funeral. It is a manifestation of solidarity intended to facilitate what can be facilitated, above all the accomplishment of a thousand steps. This solidarity is expressed by relying on reason.
Whether you had a close relationship with your parent, simply tender or downright execrable, the steps to their death are the same and they take time. The rest, the pain, the sorrow, the pain, the desolation, the heartbreak, the distress, the shock, the feelings of infinite and unpredictable nuances which take hold of us and change us with each loss, falls within the vast and rich domain of the intimate. Those who love us are there to listen to us if we want to talk to them, to console us if we want to be consoled. Let’s learn to speak with an open heart about these real sorrows that true love of animals inspires, this will prevent us from comparing, and therefore confusing, the sometimes distant great-grandmother and the little cat in her basket.