You Are Not AloneUnderstanding Pet Loss
Understanding Your Grief
- Do you feel that the death of your beloved pet is more painful than any other you have experienced?
- Do you find that others don’t understand the depth of your loss?
- Are you feeling alone, misunderstood and angry?
- Do you worry that you’re “weird” because of how you are feeling?
We know from personal experience that our grief is real and deep. It can be more painful than any other loss we may endure. Never doubt that. The relationship we have with our pets is like no other because of the total unconditional love we share with them, and the loss we experience is, therefore, like no other.
When we bring a pet into our home, the pet becomes a cherished member of the family. Most of us find it very difficult to think of our pet’s eventual death. However, there comes a time when we realize our time with them is limited, whether due to illness or old age.
Coping with Elderly/Sick Pets
Anticipatory Grief has many of the same symptoms as grief from an actual loss, but it is complicated by the inescapable knowledge of impending death. The responsibility we have to protect our pets from prolonged pain and suffering may require us to make the decision to end our pet’s life in a loving and humane fashion. This is a hard, but necessary decision to make.
Being prepared for the inevitable can make the remaining time with our pets more meaningful and is beneficial for us and our pet.
- Enjoying the remaining time you have with them.
- Making plans for euthanasia and aftercare ahead of time when you are not raw with emotions.
- Taking care of yourself to ensure an easier transition for all concerned.
- Making a commitment to yourself and your pet that their needs will come before your fear of losing them.
Deciding whether or not to euthanize your beloved pet can be one of the most emotional and painful decisions you will ever have to make. We have pledged to make the best decisions for our animal companion’s well-being, and we are obliged to see that s/he has a comfortable, healthy and painless life. Euthanasia may be the only way to humanely eliminate our pet’s suffering and negative quality of life.
When you are faced with this difficult choice, consider the following Quality of Life* evaluation:
- HURT – Is your pet in pain?
- HUNGER/HYDRATION – Is your pet eating/drinking enough?
- HYGIENE – Can your pet groom her/himself?
- HAPPINESS – Is your pet able to experience any joy or mental stimulation?
- MOBILITY- Is your pet able to move around on his/her own or with help in order to satisfy his/her desires?
- MORE GOOD DAYS THAN BAD – When bad days outnumber good days, your pet’s quality of life might be too compromised.
*Adapted from “Quality of Life Scale” by Dr. Alice Villalobos (www.pawspice.com)