Often people feel ashamed or embarrassed about having an emotional response to the death of their pet. This is normal and it would be surprising if one felt no sense of grief. Bereavement can be a confusing and trying time. We would like to offer the following advice.
It’s common to refuse to accept that a loved one has died. This is particularly true if the death was sudden and unexpected. If the animal has died away from home, asking the vet to let you see the body can sometimes help you to come to terms with the unfortunate reality.
Anger is a common sequel to loss. The bereaved feels anger towards the vet, the person who ran the dog over, or even towards fate for what is perceived as an unfair loss.
Grief manifests itself as sorrow and a longing for the pet that is gone. No matter how unlikely it seems at the time, after a period of weeks or months, your grief will subside to a manageable level. It is scientifically accepted that for some people the loss of a pet is as traumatic as the loss of a family member. If your grief persists for an excessive period of time or is such that it is emotionally crippling you, please seek professional guidance. A pastor, social worker or even your vet will be able to help you through this difficult period.
With time comes acceptance. For some people a ‘ceremony’ is needed to finalise the parting. Unfortunately the burying of your pet in your garden is prohibited by a local municipal by-law. Legacy Pets offers a number of special services allowing you to say goodbye to your faithful friend.
Many people feel guilty after the loss of a pet. If you know that you did everything possible for your pet, accept that sometimes an injury or illness is too severe for survival and nothing you could have done will change this. If you really did do something careless such as leaving a gate open, do not berate yourself. Turn it into a positive experience by making sure of what you can do to prevent a similar fate befalling your other pets that you may have in the future.
Relief is often felt when your pet has been through a lot of suffering, or perhaps when you have struggled to decide whether or not to euthanize. Most owners are horrified to find that they are a bit relieved by their pet’s passing. Don’t feel guilty about this, relief is normal when an unpleasant situation has come to an end. Know that your relief in no way diminishes your grief.
There may come a time where you are advised that there is sadly no reasonable hope of recovery for your ailing pet or that old age will have diminished the quality of your pet’s life, that euthanasia is the kindest option. Don’t feel guilty about this if you have given your pet a good life, you owe them an easy death. Speak to your vet about whether you should be present or not. Usually the pet is comforted by the presence of the owner, but if you are going to ‘break down’ you might cause the pet more distress. If the pet is already in hospital, do let the vet know if you wish to be with your pet or even if you would like to say goodbye.