By on Jun 25, 2010 | In Announcements
Preparation and learning to cope with loss...what you can expect to go through.
The First Stage: Denial
Denial is the initial response of many pet owners when confronted with a pet's terminal condition or sudden death. This rejection seems to be the mind's buffer against a sharp emotional blow.
The Second Stage: Bargaining
This stage is well documented in the human grieving process. Many times, faced with impending death, an individual may "bargain" - offering some condition if the loved one is spared. The hope that a pet might recover can foster reactions like, "If Sam recovers, I'll never skip his regular walk . . . never put him in a kennel when I go on vacation, . . . never. . . "
The Third Stage: Anger
Recognizing anger in the grief process is seldom a problem; dealing with anger however, often is. Anger can be obvious, as in hostility or aggression. On the other hand, anger often turns inward, emerging as guilt. Many veterinarians have heard the classic anger response, "What happened? I thought you had everything under control and now you've killed my dog!" Another standard: "You never really cared about Rover. He was just another fee to you, and I'm the one who has lost my pet!"
Such outbursts help relieve immediate, frustrations, though often at the expense of someone else. More commonly, pet owners dwell on the past. The number of "If only . . ." regrets are endless: "If only I hadn't left the dog at my sister's house . . ." "If only I had taken Kitty to the veterinarian a week ago . . ." Whether true or false, such recriminations and fears do little to relieve anger and are not constructive. Here, your veterinarian's support is particularly helpful.
The Fourth Stage: Grief
This is the stage of true sadness. The pet is gone, along with the guilt and anger, and only an emptiness remains. It is now that the support of family and friends is most important and sadly, the most difficult to find. A lack of support prolongs the grief stage. Therefore, the pet owner may want to seek some help from their veterinarian, pet cemeterian, or from a professional counselor.
It is normal, and should be acceptable, to display grief when a companion animal dies. It is helpful, too, to recognize that other pet owners have experienced similar strong feelings, and that you are not alone in this feeling of grief. Don't ever feel embarrassed or ashamed. Your pain is very real and your loss a heavy one.
The Final Stage: Resolution
All things come to an end - even grieving. As time passes, the sadness evolves into memories of joyful times. And, more often than not, part of the remedy lies in a new pet, a new companion animal to fill the need for a pet in the household. Keep in mind, you're not replacing your beloved friend. Nothing can ever do that. You're filling a very deep void in your heart with new love for a new companion. It's time to complete the healing.
I had to have my cat Millie put to sleep yesterday. I had her for 19 years and feel like there is an enormous hole in me. She was my first cat and although I still have others the pain at the moment seems unbearable. I know she is out of pain and it was the right choice but I just can’t stand it. I want her back and feel so guilty for leaving her at the vets but I couldn’t bring her home as it would not have been fair on the children. I just want to feel better.
Pet grief is experienced in much the same way we grieve over humans. Can take months and even years to finally heal. Best to you!
I undertsand why you feel so bad but you did the most loving thing you could have for Millie, because her pain was too much for her to bear. I had to euthanize my dog yesterday and it was absolutely awful, but it was what was best for him. He had a rapidly spreadng cancer and could barely breathe, but I still feel terrible. I guess it’s normal to feel so bad, but it’s going to be a long slow process. Hang in there. Millie loves you.
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