If you’re a big fan of certain musicians like Bono or Pharrell, you might already know that they were involved in a project to memorialize an artist’s dead cat. The project was completed for Sophie Calle, a well-known French artist, who had for many years owned a cat named Souris. When the cat died, she went into a deep state of mourning and she also found out a thing or two about the way society views people who are grieving. That’s how this project was born but in order to better understand why it became a reality, you have to understand the backstory surrounding it.
This was not just a cat as far as Calle was concerned. As a matter of fact, she much considered that cat to be her closest friend, someone that she could always trust and even confide in, although she was fully aware that the cat wasn’t going to answer her back when she said something to it, at least not in English. That being said, she, like many other people, is very much in tune with animals. She understands that even though they don’t turn around and start speaking words in the way that humans think of communication, they do have their own way of communicating. For anyone that’s willing to take the time to pay attention, animals are very much adept at communicating their feelings and letting the people who are closest to them know what they are thinking at any particular moment. People that are capable of understanding animals in this way have lives that are much enriched. They begin to see animals as someone with a soul who has thoughts, feelings and fears, just like they do. More importantly, they realize that they have a true friend right there in their midst, someone who isn’t going to judge them for their shortcomings or critique their every move. Instead, they find a companion that is capable of loving them for exactly who they are, meeting them wherever they are in life, and being happy just to be with them.
Since these are all the qualities that people constantly seem to be searching for in another human being, it only makes sense that for those select few people that figure out how much joy an animal can really bring into their lives, they would find a great deal of happiness with the animal that they’re able to connect with the most. Once that bond is developed, they have most of their emotional needs met. Not to be weird here, but when is the last time you were close to another human being who always loved you unconditionally, even when you were at your worst? If you’re fortunate enough to find someone like that, good for you. Hang on to them for dear life because that’s something that most people never find. When a person does find it, even in an animal, they’re anxious to develop that bond even further because when it really comes right down to it, every person wants is to be loved, included and accepted.
As it turns out, Calle had all of these things with her cat Souris. That made it especially hard on her when the cat died but the thing that was even harder was the reaction of other people when she told them how much she was grieving over her deceased cat. According to her, people were quick to tell her that it wasn’t normal to grieve for an animal that deeply and they simply didn’t understand how she could possibly be so broken up over losing something as simple as a cat. (Clearly, people that say that aren’t exactly in tune with animals to begin with, as any person that’s ever developed a bond with an animal and then lost that animal knows exactly what it’s like to feel that type of grief).
At any rate, Calle knows a number of musicians since she is a famous artist and she decided that it was time to memorialize Souris in her own special way. She turned this memorial into an art exhibit, convincing many of her friends to create short songs or write a section of poetry that were all designed to help her better explain her feelings to the general public. She hopes that once the public sees the exhibit and hears it all for themselves, they will begin to understand that it is indeed acceptable to grieve deeply for anyone that a person has lost, as grief is a deeply personal thing that should never be discounted just because someone else fails to understand it.