You have accepted that your pet is terminally ill. Now, you may have a difficult decision to make if nature does not take matters out of your hands. It is estimated that more than 95 percent of companion animals meet their end through euthanasia.
We at Bellflower Veterinary Hospital understand and share our clients’ emotions and grief about the loss of your loved pet.
Some general stages apply especially to anticipatory grief – as in those situations in which the pet’s health is deteriorating and a decision to put it to sleep must be made.
Denial and isolation
When first confronted with the possible terminal illness of their pet, most people deny reality, saying, “I can’t believe it, he was fine yesterday.” Some people may also experience loneliness as friends feel they might want to be left alone.
In this stage, the owner may make promises regarding his or her future behavior if only the pet gets well like spending more time with it or taking it to the park more often. Promises may also be unrelated to the pet like attending church more often or performing some acts of contrition.
Anger and rage
“Why did this happen to me,” is a common rage. Facing the reality of the loss, the owner may lash out at people closest to the situation.
This is the time when the loss actually sinks in. It is during this stage when the owner must unlearn the expected presence of the deceased animal.
Being devoid of painful feelings, this stage leads one into accepting the situation and growing out of it but it certainly does not lead to happiness.
How to deal with the loss of your pet
We at Bellflower Veterinary Hospital help our clients as best as we can get over the loss of their loved pets. Here are some suggestions we have compiled from articles and journals:
- Allow yourself to grieve by taking out the time
- Arrange a suitable memorial service for your dog, which will also help rally social support
- Take care of your own health
- Seek out social support by reaching out to close family members and supportive friends for comfort and validation
- Know about your personal grieving process; it is not necessary for everyone to undergo the same grief stages
- Accept and express feelings by talking with others, creating art or writing a song on your pet
- Indulge yourself by making a special purchase or better still buy a gift for someone else and make them happy
- Be patient and allow memories to return on special occasions as pet birthdays; this is very normal
- Restructure your time that you earlier spent with your pet to do creative work or even volunteering for animal welfare or rescue
- Develop your spiritual side by praying, reading spiritual material and seeking guidance
- Do not hesitate or feel shy to obtain professional help or counsel
Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by M Anderson
Pet Loss: A Spiritual Guide by Eleanor Harris
Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates by Gary Kurz
Surviving the Heartbreak of Choosing Death For Your Pet: Your personal guide for Dealing with Pet Euthanasia by L Peterson
The Final Farewell: Preparing for and Mourning the Loss of Your Pet by M Tousley and K Heuerman