Person clutches cat while crying.

My Grief Turned Into a Migraine

Recently, I lost my first rescue cat. I adopted him on my 21st birthday. He and I had been through so much. He saw things that no animal should witness. Our bond was unbreakable and he quickly became my therapy. A very special type of therapy.

Living a full life

When I moved into my apartment 10 years ago, he spent the first night with me on the floor. No mattress, no furniture, just open space and a carpeted floor to sleep on. When he was just a few years old, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and I promised him that he would live a full life. And he did - for 11 years.

In the more recent years and even more recent months, he began to worsen and eventually became consumed by dementia. I knew his time was coming and he was telling me it was time. It was a quick decision I had to make. This was also the first animal of my own that I had to let go of.

Putting my cat down

So I found myself at the vet, a place where I hate to go because of how bad my allergies are. Not long after the technicians and vet came into the room to explain the steps, I finally began to cry after the sedative took effect. I sobbed for 10 minutes as the sedative took hold of him. The vet came back into the room and very quickly my first love faded away and was at peace. They allowed me to stay with him as long as I could and I cried harder and thanked them for all the help they’d given me with him. I sat for a while with him and held him. My allergies began as my sinuses were really clearing from all of the tears and the animal dander in the air. I knew I had to leave him and began to cry again.

Grieving and being attacked by migraine

I left my boy, wearing his best collar and bowtie tucked in a sunflower blanket with the smells of his siblings and checked out at the front desk. I soon found myself in my car, sobbing. I felt a migraine coming and my eyes were already starting to blur. I did my best to brush myself off and drive myself home. I got home to my other 2 cats and cried more. I knew at this point I had a full-blown migraine but I didn’t even care how much it hurt to cry. My head began to throb and soon I could barely see. I took my abortive migraine medication and prayed that all of my stuffiness, my allergies, and plugged but stuffy nostrils would stop.

Migraine stole my grieving period

The rest of the day I spent puking in the bathroom and the entire house was black and silent. “This is my own fault,” I kept thinking to myself. And then a voice spoke and said, “This is grief. This is not your fault.” But when I found myself 2 days later with the same migraine and very little sleep, I was angry. I was grieving. I was sick. I missed my boy. I couldn’t even grieve the loss of him without one? This is unfair, I told myself.

Fighting sadness and migraine

Whether I was bound or not to get a migraine that day, I got one and it was a terrible one. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I’ve given myself a migraine. I finally fell asleep for 20 minutes on day three and woke up craving soda. Within an hour, I felt much better. It felt like it left as quickly as it came. I sat up in bed and looked around. I knew he wouldn’t be there next to me, but I looked anyway.

Avoiding grief to relieve migraine

I felt sadness but did not allow myself to cry for fear it would all start over again. I knew if I started crying, I wouldn’t be able to stop and I’d become more dehydrated than I was already.

I made a lot of sacrifices during the rest of that week. Most of them were to keep my migraine away. I fear the next time I suffer a loss. I look back now and feel robbed of that initial period of grief.

Have you ever experienced a migraine during a period of grieving? How did you handle it?

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