Losing a Pet
Anyone who has ever lost their best friend, their confidant, and close family member knows how difficult this grief over pet loss is. Often times, this loss is a result of our, the pet owner’s own doing. Either we chose euthanasia allowing a veterinarian to deliver a life ending overdose of anesthesia or it happened because of our inadvertent neglect allowing the pet to collide with a vehicle or ignoring subtle symptoms until the disease was so advanced that nothing could be done. Because of the extensive feelings of guilt that surround this loss, this grief in particular can be Earth shattering.
Currently working through grief myself, I have come to understand what a powerful and unforeseen emotion it can be. First it renders you numb so that no emotion can come through. Then it turns gut wrenching, taking your breath away and throwing your spirit to the floor. It then recedes only to leave you feeling lonely, hopeless and unmotivated. These are the times that those who are grieving need support.
As unfortunate as it is, it is the times of grief, pain, and suffering – the hard times – that teach us the most important lessons in life.
• It reminded me that I have to take care of myself first. Remember to always put your own oxygen mask on before helping others in the event that the cabin pressure changes.
• Grief has reminded me of what is important in life. Again no one on their death bed ever wishes that they had stayed at work longer.
• Working through my grief I have learned that although I am strong, I have the right to have emotions and can express those emotions without it making me appear weak.
• Grief has begun to reveal who my true friends and supporters are and reminded me to make time for them and forego those relationships that are not true friendships.
• Life is short, make it count!
As stated before, losing a pet can be devastating because of the feelings of guilt. There are other factors that cause grief to be pronounced. Often times there are financial factors that may have led to the pet’s death. The feeling that the pet was an innocent victim or couldn’t verbalize what they wanted in the end heightens the feelings of loss.
Perhaps the hardest hurdle after losing a pet is dealing with the grief. Employers understand needing time off from work to grieve when you have lost a spouse or a parent but not always when you lose Fluffy. Without some time to grieve and support, this loss can be very difficult to come to terms with.
Grief Support Groups
That is why pet loss support systems can be so very helpful. I have listed three below. One is a local venue that has a face to face support group, the other is a telephone hotline and the last is an internet forum. Please pass these along to anyone you know dealing with the grief of pet loss. And of course, always check in with your veterinarian. They and their staff are often good supporters and may have other area knowledge of groups particular to your situation. For more information see our website.
by: Cassandra Kelley DVM