I have read many stories on this site where people have said that their departed pets have returned to comfort them.
Eleven years ago both of my cats, Gretel and Moe, were killed by my sister's dog. I was staying with her while I was moving into a new house.
A long time passed during which I was inconsolable.
I felt like it was my fault and I should have never left the house. I kept reliving my sister's words to me.
She said they found Moe with a broken neck under some knocked over boxes in the laundry room floor. Somehow Gretel had climbed her way up an empty wall to a high shelf and was balled up and they thought she was just terrified. They brought her down and blood was coming from her mouth. She died on the way to the vet. They waited until I got there to tell me because they didn't want me to get in a wreck driving home. I'll never forget the word she used. Surreal. She said that the lock on the dog door had been broken in and that the dog in question was sleeping on the floor nearby. Nobody is as protective over your pets as you are.
All hours of the day I would hear cat activity going on around me. I would hear their jingle ball toys even though I had them put up in a drawer. I heard something going at the scratching post sometimes and it was put away in the closet. At least half of the times I would open a door I would feel a little cat rush past my ankles on it's way out the door. All of these things happened in the new house that my cats had never been in.
This went on for long enough that I visited a psychiatrist. It troubled me to the point where I couldn't sleep.
The psychiatrist told me that what I was experiencing was like my mind playing tricks and that when someone is used to certain things happening after specific triggers then their mind can have them relive it. I don't remember his exact wording but be assured that it was infinitely better than mine. He also said that my feeling of guilt plays a role. Then he let me know that I hadn't lost my mind.
All of that sounds good but I worked in a busy pharmacy then and I work in another one now. I experience a tremendous amount of persistent and repetitive events every day. I have bad dreams that I have to explain to people that their insurance won't cover their medication and it costs a million dollars. I don't relive any of that when I'm away from it.
Furthermore, his parting words to me that day were: "Cats only live about fifteen years, anyway."
I laughed out of awkwardness and said that was a little insensitive. He must not be an animal lover.
Later that week I went to a craft store and bought some oven-bake clay, made two cat figurines and painted them exactly how they looked. I even made Gretel slightly overweight and I made Moe look aerodynamic. Then I apologized to them and I put them on my bed's headboard. I felt better.
One thing my sister said to me was that the whole event went down about ten paces from where my infant niece was sleeping in her rocker. Later on that thought returned to me and it occured to me that maybe it's possible that they died in her place. Had they not been the first thing the dog met when it broke in something bad might have happened to my sister's baby. The notion that maybe they saved her life was a help to me.
A long time passed and I no longer believe the dog would have attacked my niece. My cats were new animals in it's territory and it hated cats. Not necessarily small creatures in general.
I do think it was my cats visiting me when I was heartbroken. Wishing to make me feel better and stop beating myself up.