Disabled Kitten Helps Parents Process the Grief of Losing Their Son

After Wayne Keeley and his wife StephanieStephanie C. Lyons-Keeley sadly lost their oldest son Wyatt to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in December 2020, the pair came upon a tiny kitten who was adopted but then returned to the shelter because he had spina bifida and needed special care. The couple truly felt that the kitten needed them.

It was just a really tough time my second oldest daughter saw on Instagram this tiny little kitten who had spina bifida had been adopted and then returned and just this thing that went off like a light bulb we thought we could do this. We could give the care to a kitten that nobody wanted.

They gave the kitten, whom they named Luke, a loving home and in turn, Luke brought to them a particular joy that let them know that they were honoring Wyatt.

We just grew with him and learned how to care for him and this was a way to process the grief. I feel like we were doing something really special to honor my stepson.

The couple wound up adopting other disabled animals, making themselves a de facto sanctuary of sorts.

We now have 14 disabled cats we’ve kind of become a self-appointed sanctuary I guess we just feel a lot of joy that we’re able to do this for these animals.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.