Tag Archives: Cope

Euthanasia and Pet Loss – How to Cope When You Must Make This Painful Choice

Many people understand the implications of pet loss when their pet has died of disease or natural causes. However, the loss can be even more profound when a pet owner must make the painful decision to euthanize their animal.

This can be such a devastating decision, leaving pet owners riddled with guilt and despair. While euthanasia is usually the best decision for the pet, the actual process of arriving at this determination is challenging for the pet’s owner. There are many reasons for euthanizing a pet, from painful, debilitating diseases to freeing them a poor quality of life as a result of old age or injury. However, while this is a painful decision, pet owners should take heart that the decision was the right one and made in the interest of the pet they loved so much.

Animals are not able to say where they are hurting and the degree to which they are suffering. Pet owners must have the ability to be compassionate and selfless in this situation – and most do. Euthanasia is a humane process of putting a pet out of their misery and suffering and is done through a veterinarian’s office in a very kind, gentle and humane manner. They will also often provide a small box in which to transport the pet to their final place of rest, giving pet owners a chance to determine final arrangements.

When it comes to euthanasia and pet loss, tips for coping are similar to those of any other kind of pet loss but with an additional, critical element. Forgiveness. If you are feeling any sort of guilt, worry or resentment over your decision, be sure that you forgive yourself. Know that you made your decision from your heart and in your beloved pet’s best interests. It is also important to allow time to grieve the loss. Sometimes performing a formal pet memorial service can be a way to help alleviate some of the pain surrounding your loss.

Pet owners might choose to commemorate the life of their pet through burial in a pet cemetery, marking the space with a pet grave marker. For those that choose cremation, there are a wide variety of beautiful pet urns to preserve the precious remains of beloved pets. These formal tributes to pets can help to ease the pain through celebrating the joy that your pets bring into our hearts. Displaying photos of the pet can also help to ease the pain, as the photos will likely focus on the good times shared between the pet owner and their beloved animal.

Moreover, looking to the immediate network of pet loss support around, including close family members and friends, will help, particularly as they avail themselves to talk about the loss whenever necessary. Sometimes, talk therapy can be the best way to overcome such a difficult time.

It is important that pet owners allow themselves the opportunity grieve their loss. Everyone grieves and heals in their own time frame and in their own way. Incorporating other healing elements into the grieving process, like donating time at a local shelter, can help pet owners to focus on the joy that pets brought into our lives so generously, and begin the process of healing.

Colleen Mihelich
Owner, Peternity . . . honoring your pet for eternity
[email protected]

How to cope with the death of your dog

Although they may be ‘just animals’, the sorrow felt when a pet dog dies can seem insurmountable. They have been your companion for so many years it probably feels like you have lost one of your family. Unfortunately there are no quick fix solutions to getting over the death but with time and patience the bereavement can become more bearable.

Around 75% of all dog owners have to make the decision to have their dog put to sleep, often after a long and traumatic illness. Because of this, pet owners often carry a burden of guilt with them for making this decision. If you acknowledge that you have no need for guilt and that the choice was fairly inevitable and allow yourself to grieve this can be a healing experience.

Some people find that holding a funeral for their dog can be a helpful experience. They may bury their dog in their garden or opt for cremation and bury or even display the ashes. If you are choosing to bury your dog, wrap them in a favourite toy, blanket or dog bed; burying them is perfectly legal but make sure that they are buried away from ponds, streams and underground cables and at least a 1.25 metres deep. If you are unsure where you will be living in a few years, a pet cemetery may be an option as these are becoming more popular in the UK. Of course, others may prefer not to deal with this aspect of bereavement at all and it is perfectly acceptable to let the vet handle these things.

If you have children then it is important to involve them in the grieving process. Often this is their first experience of death and they may feel like something they did or said was responsible for the death of the pet. Have frequent brief chats to them about the dog, encourage them (if they are young) to draw or write about the pet and allow them to join in your funeral arrangements.

Other dogs may need time to adjust and may go through the grieving process too. In this case it is a good idea to increase positive times such as play, exercise and affection and try and spend as much time as possible with them. Some people believe that natural remedies can help. In this case try homeopathic ignatia or the Bach flower remedy Gentian, Gentiana amarella or Heather, Calluna vulgaris.

The grieving process is easier if you know what to expect and although clichéd there tend to be stages which you will go through. Shock, denial, anger, guilt, and depression are all normal emotions to experience. Surround yourself with people who understand your loss and if you wish hold a memorial service for your dog just as you would hold one for any other member of the family.

Only you can know if you will want another dog after this. If you think that it is unlikely then get a friend to remove your pet’s supplies such as dog beds, bowls, toys and dog food. Of course you may wish to keep them and some people choose to get a new dog immediately to ‘fill the void’. Generally speaking it is a good idea to wait a while until you are sure that you are ready and that you will be able to treat your new dog as an individual and avoid making comparisons.

If you just need to talk to somebody who understands, the Blue Cross in the UK has a pet bereavement support service where trained volunteers will talk to you and the website offers the opportunity to place a memorial for your pet. With time the pain will become unbearable and although you will never forget your dog, you will start to once again to remember them with pleasure.

Nicolette Craig is a writer for Swell Pets, the UK’s Leading Online Pet Superstore. Visit Swell Pets  to see their range of pet supplies and dog food.

How Can You Cope With the Loss of Pet?

Have you recently experienced the tragic loss of pet? Taking it hard? It is perfectly understandable for you to be experiencing a serious grief over the death or loss of your beloved pet! And don’t let anyone belittle your loss or take away your right to a fitting bereavement.

The loss of a beloved family pet can be devastating. In general, our society does not recognize the significance of pet loss or allow for a proper bereavement. You may even be embarrassed or uneasy about expressing your grief to others, and may end up feeling isolated and alone in your grief. When a pet dies, there are no formal and public rituals, like the funeral, where sorrow can be openly expressed and emotional support freely given. Since we don’t know how to properly deal with pet loss grief, we usually suffer in silence.

You may be surprised at how sad and anguished you are when your pet dies. You may wonder if it is normal to be grieving so deeply over the loss of “just an animal”. NO, you are not weird or abnormal. It is normal and healthy to mourn the loss of a deep love bond, whether with a human or an animal. You hurt deeply because you loved deeply! Your heavy grief shows that you have a big heart and much compassion. You should be proud, not ashamed or embarrassed. Look at it this way: you have lost a beloved family member and this deserves a proper bereavement.

Think now about your relationship with your lost pet. The love you received from him was different than that from humans. Your pet likely adored you! He was always there for you, never criticized you, never held grudges, and always forgave you, no matter what. Are there any humans in your life that have ever given to you this selflessly?

For all this love, your pet expected no more from you than a good belly rub or ear-scratching, right? Pets have a way of finding their way into your heart and soon become a true member of the family. Because your pet was a comforting presence in your intimate day-to-day life, he impacted your emotions more than you realize. This is why people suffer so at the loss of pet.

You also received tactile comfort from your pet; touching, stroking, and rubbing their fur. Petting an animal is great stress relief and enriches your life. The unconditional love your pet gave to you created a different and very strong emotional attachment, a comforting presence that is sure to missed heartily.

Any bereavement, whether over an animal or human loss, is an individual thing. Some people take just a few weeks to sort out their grief, while others can take months or even years. The key is to not deny your grief. Let it be, experience it fully, and it will follow it’s own natural course to a successful resolution. How to help the process? Seek out people who will let you express your grief. A warm, understanding and supportive listener can help tremendously. But be careful about who you choose to confide in; some people just don’t take pet loss seriously. Follow the Pet Loss link below for more information and support from folks who do “get it”.

Do NOT rush to get another pet anytime soon. Your beloved companion who died can never be “replaced”. Each animal is different, with a unique personality and a special bond with it’s owner that cannot be duplicated. Let your grief run it’s course, let your bereavement resolve. You need to be ready emotionally to welcome a new animal into your life. Don’t rush this. You should no more rush to the pet store to get a new pet than a bereaved husband should rush to a dating site to replace his beloved wife!

But when the time is right, do get another pet. Sure, you risk getting hurt again when your new pet dies, put it’s worth the price, don’t you think? Would you have foregone the joys of having and loving your lost pet just because you knew he would die one day? The act of bringing a new animal into your life shows courage, strength, and hope for the future. Your heart is big enough to eventually welcome another animal to your side, even if you ultimately must endure the loss of pet again.

Jennie Wright is a Registered Nurse and Certified Grief Counselor who has worked for many years with critically ill and dying patients and their traumatized families. Grief has also touched her life personally, from both beloved human and pet losses. visit our Pet Loss page to access practical resources and a gentle place to meet with others who have lost beloved pets.