Feelings of loss and guilt


You probably remember my threads and other posts about my girlfriend of 1.5 years (and friend for previous 2.5) leaving on 2nd Feb this year. Now it looks like my tortoise is dead, died yesterday. The local vet says he’s dead, but I’ll be taking him to the specialist vets who’ve been treating him the last week.

He got Calcium, vitamins, food through a pipe, painkillers, herbal baths. He seemed to get better, the bood circulation more in order (the shell was reddened, his blood vessels were leaking), he started walking again. It looked like everything was getting better and on Friday evening, my mum said, “what an old face you have, what half-open eyes,” and that was how the tortoise looked. There was no response to touch. The little paws and head were falling to the side. No change till the morning. The vet said he was dead. I remember he moved, he was alive when I was taking him out of the bath and going to church for the evening mass. I limited my prayers to “thy will be done” for whatever reason I don’t know, but came back to pray not for anything in my life, but just the poor sick tortoise (and I had prayed in communion as well, and to saints to pray for him… Mary, St. Francis, Anthony, Judah, others…). I didn’t look closely since the tortoise wouldn’t normally move much these days, more like basking in light and warmth, but he might have died even at that moment.

Now I recall I’ve been praying to God so He would show me the sins in my life that I was ignoring, but God wouldn’t take the tortoise away to show me how selfish I was or how I had neglected proper care. My stepfather claims I’ve murdered the tortoise and the unwanted animal died. He doesn’t know much about tortoises and what the vets and the other family members say doesn’t seem to agree with what he says, but I’m fearing I’m just making up excuses and have killed the tortoise as well as the relationship before. It looks like everything is being taken from me for my sins of lack of care or selfishness or neglect. The last specialist to look at him said it was a bacteria and maybe too low temperatures had harmed his immune system enough to be susceptible (low temps would have been my fault :(), something also like it could have been going on for years because tortoises fight disease for a very long time and maybe he only recently gave in (and I associate giving in or giving up with how I didn’t treat him well enough :(). I keep thinking about anything that could have helped. More frequent visits to the vets. More close and thoughtful check-ups. Additional sources of heat or light.

As for the girlfriend, even she says she didn’t feel unloved or unwanted or anything like that, that I was a wonderful boyfriend, although these days she says she isn’t missing me much and is happier than she was with me, she says it’s not my fault but her decision (and she doesn’t want to come back to the relationship on so many levels). It looks like long distance and religious differences were the reason and she didn’t want to bind herself with promises of having offspring as she wasn’t sure she would ever want children. I still can’t stop thinking that I could have done more. Showed more love, more compassion, more understanding, more patience, more everything, better example of a Christian life, better explanation of the matters of sexual ethics (and a better time to talk about that). I do see how problems in that regard had been going on almost since the beginning of the relationship, but it isn’t helping.

With the tortoise, whatever the family (except stepfather) are saying about him having enough warmth near the heater where he was (stepfather talks about the window nearby, though it wouldn’t be opened at all or not much). The vets said it wasn’t the only case, but tortoises had that illness this time of the year. Mum and others said he didn’t want to eat what we gave him and what he had eaten before or the books deemed proper, and would just be choosy or refuse to eat.

And the girlfriend surely wasn’t spotless in everything in the relationship, which she herself says. She says move on and forget, readily forgives whatever there is to forgive and all. She tried to cheer me up too. But it just didn’t work. I could take the dumping, but now the tortoise’s death after 12 years and growing up with me…


Perhaps God wanted to give me some suffering to avoid feeling like I didn’t love the girlfriend enough, or He wanted to give me the opportunity to take the tortoise to the vets and spend all my money and do things to show I cared, to experience the caring and loving for the tortoise and to share some days in more closeness (moved him to right next to my desk) instead of unnoticed passing away on some night, which would have been so much harder to take. Having to leave the girlfriend because of exclusion of children making marriage impossible would have been so much harder as well. But I can’t help the feeling I didn’t love the girlfriend and the tortoise enough. That I didn’t care enough. That I didn’t do all I could (which is most certainly true). I just can’t deal with it. With the guilt, the loss, the fear of what will happen next. Additionally, I feel like my wanting to take the tortoise to the specialists who were treating him is just trying to find someone to share my problem with, to see them sad over the animal they were treating, to fish for some attention instead of just taking the shovel and burying the animal in the forest and moving on like a man. I’ve even cried which I’m not normally able to do. I prayed for the tortoise to heal when it looked too late, and I prayed for him to come back to life even, should he already have been dead. I feel such emptiness in my life. Granted, that might be room for God, but He wouldn’t be making room for Himself by taking my girlfriend and then my tortoise away. He wouldn’t probably even be taking them to show me that I was selfish and needed to change.

Now I also feel creepy for still keeping the tortoise right here under the light (wrapped in a towel in a box, not in public sight, in case he’s really departed) to show him to the specialist vets tomorrow. I so fear to bury a living but sickly slumbering animal (according to the local vet, it could probably be normal in case of winter slumber).

There are explanations like even that God was merciful and spared me a future divorce. Or took the poor tortoise away early to spare him further suffering. That would indeed have been so merciful. But two weeks or less before the girlfriend approached me with the breaking up idea, we seemed to be going on well. Nothing seemed bad about the tortoise two weeks before he died (and yes, I’m almost 100% sure he’s dead, I just want to be 102% sure before burying him). Things came suddenly and I can’t move on and get over it. I can’t stop feeling guilty or fearing what’s next to come. I can and will confess whatever mistreating of the tortoise I can think about, but it won’t do away with those feelings of guilt which are self-imposed. And loss. I had a girlfriend, I now have memories, a couple of souvenirs and letters and a friend whom I don’t see much, if at all these days. I had a tortoise, I have a still body. I had hope and trust in the future, now I’m giving in, giving up, caving in, and I’ve never had problems with depression. Just like I can’t shake it off like a man.

Please pray for me if you’d be so kind. And offer any advice if you have. I’ll be grateful for anything. Sorry for making this so long.


I’m going to pray for you right now, and keep you in my prayers. I’m so sorry you’re going through all this. (((Hugs)))

Take care. You are loved and wanted. God will get you through this hard time.


I think you did what you had to do. What you did in the past is the past. The present is always a gift from God. Do what you feel is right. If I were you I would discard all memorabilia about GF. You need to start a new chapter in your life. Begin that chapter in life as best as possible. About the past, learn from it, don’t let it take over you. Live today as if it was the last day.

That is all I have to say about your situation. It is a healing process, but you must start now. The sooner you begin the faster you will heal.



Thank you so much. Yes, I’m not unwanted or anything… I felt this when entering the church today. Even though it did feel before like my prayers weren’t good enough to save my tortoise (I even felt as if God was offended by my poor care of the tortoise and wouldn’t listen to my prayers, I almost felt too ashamed and too unworthy to stand before Him… it almost felt like He was taking girlfriend and tortoise from me because I couldn’t care for them). You know… I’ve been praying to God to show me my sins I wasn’t seeing (a Lenten formation thing). In fact, the tortoise might have died at the time I was praying for that. But I so don’t think God would take the poor animal away to show me I didn’t care enough for him and there was no help anymore. He wouldn’t be cutting my ties with the temporal world… girlfriend, tortoise, to clear my path for being called, either. I think. Maybe He just took the animal away to spare a month or more of suffering, and to prevent me from having to ask for a lethal injection. Going to confession helped, but I can’t totally stop blaming myself.

As for the girlfriend, she came round on MSN to ask how I was and we talked about the poor tortoise. She comforted me a lot. Thank God for such a friend, she had been my best friend before the relationship. I didn’t tell her how I wanted to show the tortoise to her (I had visited her, but she hadn’t me, before the break-up, although she’s coming to this country in the summer, so she would come round anyway).

I’ll be phoning the specialist vets in the morning and asking them if I should have them see my poor animal or if it’s safe to trust the local vet and the symptoms I see. The little one is probably dead anyway. I’ll be finding a nice place in the forest with my best friend (I have two or three, this one is another guy, not the ex) and I’ll make a small cross of two sticks and remember the place. I so can’t bury the 55-95 years he (or she, more likely, but the name was male) had to live. :frowning: He won’t be traversing the flat anymore, he won’t be basking in the sun on the balcony, he won’t be living in my garden when I can afford one. My children will not have him. I know he wouldn’t like to see me crying (yes, this is how I, a guy, am taking it) and he would like me to remember him well, cherish the good moments and move on with my life. But I also know that he could tell me as well the food wasn’t right or giving him what he need, he was too cold and didn’t have enough walks on a bigger space of the whole flat, or outside. It’s so painful.

The girlfriend at least lives. If God wills to have us togehter at any point in the future, He will do just that. If He doesn’t, so be it. I thank Him for the friend I have in her, I’ve had all the time I’ve known her. It’s all painful and I can’t imagine life with another woman (unless I really try and force myself to imagine how great it would be to have a Catholic wife, take children to church, go to communion together), but she lives. She’s around. We can be friends. The tortoise is not around anymore. I had more than one chance to provide better conditions to him, to change my lax attitude and be more dutiful about him, even if it wouldn’t perhaps have averted this fate, but who knows for sure. But no such chance anymore. Please keep praying for me and keep posting if there’s anything you could tell me yet.


Chevalier, you have a lot to offer. You are going through a hard time at the moment but it will not last. I’ve read the advice you have given to others, it is caring, compassionate and very sound advice. I can’t believe that you were not this way with your girlfriend. She was obviously not the one God has chosen for you. There will be someone else better for you down the track. Just the fact that you are so caring about your tortise shows what depth you have to your character. So many people would and do not show such concern for animals. Go easy on yourself. Immerse yourself in God. Rely on Him for comfort and even if you didn’t do all you could do with your tortise and your girlfriend, resolve to do better next time. That’s all any of us can do.
God will provide. God will lift you up when noone else can. I’ll pray for you.


Chevalier, I just want you to know that after reading quite a few of your posts, that you are definitely a loving, caring, and thoughtful person. Please don’t be tempted to believe otherwise. I also thought you might like to read the following post. It might give you a different perspective on suffering.


Chevalier, you were so kind to me in my recent loss of Jessie, I wish I could help you in return. But all I can do is mourn with you and pray for you. God bless.


You have my prayers chevalier, and my love! :console:


Chevalier, I’m sorry for your tortoise. From reading other posts by you my impression is that you care very much.

I remember a line from a memorial that went:
“If love could have kept you alive you never would have died.” He didn’t die because you didn’t love him enough; exotic pets are more challanging to care for. My hope is that all critters, especially your tortoise, understand something of the love and care given to them by humans.


I agree with the above and couldn’t say it better. Chevalier just want you to know that I too appreciate your kindness and prayers to me and my family. I will continue to pray for you, don’t give up for so God has his plans for you. You do have a caring and compassionate heart and love to help others in whatever way you can. God be with you, for I am sure He is.


The tortoise is so at peace. I’ve been wondering if to bury him with his sick towels and I thought perhaps he shouldn’t be buried as if he were still sick because he isn’t anymore. He could be buried as a healthy animal. But those were his towels and they will be going with him, not to a dust bin. But what I realised was that he no longer suffered. He was at peace and he was a wild animal and a traveller again. The cat slept with his head on the tortoise’s box, the same one in which I took the tortoise to the vets. A red heart-shaped cherry stone cushion from my girlfriend, which was meant to ease my pains, came in that box. It was somehow proper. Some of her love will be going with him too (yes, I know how this sounds, but she’s still my best friend, she loved me before the relationship and loves me still, if in a different way, and she was so sorry for the tortoise… she very much wanted to see him but it wasn’t given to her). I’ve bought him a bunch of red-yellow tulips from the lady I always buy flowers from. She cut them a bit to accommodate them to the size of the box and she too was sorry for the poor animal. Also got him a willow branch with fluffy berries (whatever you call it in English), a symbol of Easter and resurrection here. I will make a tiny cross on that grave. We’re going with my brother and best friend now. Please pray a bit if you happen to read this soon enough.

The vets said he was surely dead. The temperatures were too low for him, the food wasn’t very good for him and his kidneys might have been very sick, plus the loss of blood from that wound near the tail. I so wish I had been more dutiful in covering him up for the night, although my grandmother says now she cared for him all she could and he had warmth and food and everything. Family members say it wasn’t lack of warmth and we didn’t know about the food. But I could have taken him home instead of the corridor, given him the lights and heating he needed, showed him more interest and love. But it looks like the cat is reconciled with the tortoise’s death and passing, and the little animal is so peaceful. Maybe he didn’t really belong with a flat in a block. He was a traveller. I’ll remember him well and I have to go bury him now. Please pray for the little animal if there’s anything to pray for yet. A place in the afterlife for animals, a peaceful grave without disturbance by dogs or other animals, a good and happy memory between humans he cared for. Let him rest in peace.

Thank you for charity and support. Please continue to remember me and please keep posting.


Chevalier, please don’t feel bad about how you cared for your pet. As I read your posts, I thought how blessed this little tortoise was, to have someone who cared for him, & showed him love.
So many poor animals never have that. Some are even deliberately mistreated. Yet you gave this tortoise love & caring. You have a wonderfully kind heart.
God bless you for your caring toward one of His creations.


chevalier…I have a son whi 27 now and still has his pet turtle that he had when he was 10. A trutle is not so hard to keep as a tortoise. This boy of mine is so sentimental, and still is, and I dread the day that his George will die. We bought him the size of a quarter…George is so much bigger than that today. It’s funny that he is as sentimental as he is (something like you) but his sister does not have a sentimental bone in her body…:whistle:


Thank you, once again. My little tortoise has found his resting place and I pray to God that it’s never disturbed by anything or anyone. It’s a nice place in the forest. He filled my life with so much joy. It’s just too bad I didn’t care to take him out of his cage more and play with him, watch him walk. I loved that. But the Internet and computer games sort of took that away. I wish I had focussed more on my tortoise instead of caring for myself and my spiritual rewinding after the break-up, as well. Maybe if I had been less self-absorbed and less lazy (it took me a lot of time to replace his sand after the cat dirtied it, for example, and I kept the tortoise on newspapers for that time instead of just making that short trip and replacing the sand over 15 minutes of my time), the tortoise would still live. The vets didn’t know what actually killed him, although they gave me clues. He didn’t have it very cold here, according to what my family members say and what I can feel in his former place (it feels warmer than in the house, actually, that corner of the corridor neer a big heater), the food… we didn’t know better. And he was only eating what was actually good for him, the last half a year. He had an infection and probably also poor kidneys from bad diet. Some things they like eating are not good for them in the end. My grannie cared for him a great lot and actually did the most of the day-to-day work like feeding or preparing for the night. She said he didn’t lack anything. I don’t understand God’s purpose in taking him away, if there was any. Or her. I never knew for sure and if I had a female tortoise, then I loved her, not him. :slight_smile: I feel some peace coming, strangely. But I cried a lot today (I’m normally unable to and we’re talking about an adult guy, after all). And prayed a lot. The tortoise is no longer suffering and he will not lack anything anymore. But when I think of the many years we could have had together. He should have outlived me. :frowning: It pains me that there are so many things I might have done that might have saved him. And should have done.

As for the girlfriend, she lives and she will be happy with some other guy. That’s different.

@Shoshana: There’s a chance George will outlive your son. I think turtles live shorter than tortoises, but there’s still a big chance if George’s 10 years younger. The younger generations will be attached to him, but they will not have known George as a young animal. :slight_smile:


Their is nothing wrong with crying, especially when something sad has happened.:hug1:


Thank you. It’s hard indeed. I can’t get over the fact that my darling little tortoise might have died because of my own sins of dereliction, neglect lack of care. Or that I didn’t spend time with him much in the last half a year before he died. He might have needed me so much and he deserved contact and time with his master, and his care. The night before I buried him, when one vet had already said he was dead, I had a dream of him actually starting to move his head and/or paws a bit in the condition he was. I so wanted to make sure I wasn’t burying a live animal and I also had some hope they would tell me it wasn’t death, it was slumber. But no, they said dead and didn’t even see the need to give him an injection just in case. And I think God too kim partly so that I wouldn’t have to give him that injection. But it was so strange, so unbelievable. The tortoise was actually getting better and the chief vet of those who cared for him the last days was surprised. The fact I had prayed to God to show me the sins I didn’t see isn’t helping, especially as the little tortoise was visibly getting better. I talked to my grandmother today morning and mentioned this and she said maybe I wasn’t noticing other, smaller signs and it took something so great. I so wouldn’t have my little animal die for me. :frowning:


Please keep praying for me. The memories of things I could have done better keep coming back, such as most recently, how I was coming back home with him from the specialist vets and didn’t go straight home (it was quite cold and although he was wrapped in towels, it was far from his ideal temperature of 26-28 degrees Celsius) but was delayed by talking to friend, stealing a minute more and a minute more, thinking it wouldn’t make that much difference. Or some other things. I think it’s merciful of God to let me keep my reflexes to look after the tortoise when coming home, such checking if he’s fed or covered with a blanket for the night. It just makes me think I didn’t totally neglect the little animal. But it’s so hard to deal with all the things I could and should have done better and the animal could maybe have lived. It also feels like such thoughts disturb his peace somehow.


:console: :signofcross:


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