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Grieving the Loss of a Pet: Saying Goodbye

Updated on July 26, 2012

I have had animals of all kinds my whole life. They are my greatest joy. Unfortunately, they also don't live as long as us, and I have had to say goodbye to so many. If you're a true animal lover, it is one of the hardest things to do. They are like your children and the grief can be overwhelming.

There is no easy way to get through grief. No one magic formula to make it less painful. Everyone has to feel their way through it in whatever way is best for them. I wanted to share some of the feelings and thoughts that have gotten me through, hoping it might help you.

The Final Gift

I have had many of my animals put to sleep when they were beyond help and I felt they were suffering. It is undoubtedly one of the hardest decisions you'll ever make. It is so tempting to just hang onto them for a little while longer. But when you know they are hurting, it is the final gift of love you can give them.

A woman on a cat forum I participate in remarked recently that she couldn't get over knowing what she was about to do and her cat had no idea what was coming. I told her, "what a blessing." The cat didn't have to have the fear of what was coming and now they can go to sleep so peacefully. She wrote back that it helped her a lot to think about it that way.

To be able to relieve them of their misery, to be at their side until the very end, is a blessing to me. So I think of euthanasia as the final gift.

Little Spirits

I've lost a lot of people in my life and have felt their presence from time to time, but I have to say that this is never more true than with my pets. I feel their little spirits around me a lot, especially when I'm upset. I always have pets, so when I feel someone jump up onto the bed, I look to see who it is. I have felt this many times, looked and there was no one there. I knew it was one of my babies that was gone. I have also felt gentle rubs against my back.

I feel their little spirits stay with us for a very long time. I have seen them out of the corner of my eye, passing by, just briefly. Very subtle signs, but signs that they are still around. It is extremely comforting. They are watching over us still.

The Rainbow Bridge

This poem has been around for a very long time and many of you probably already know it already. It will make you sob, but also give you great comfort. The author has never been known, but I would love to know who it was that wrote this incredibly touching and soothing piece of work. For those that have never read it, just click here

I have to believe that we will be with the ones we love again someday, including our furry babies. I also like to think about them all being together when they pass and that they have each other once again, because they grieve when a death occurs too, whether it's a human or one of their own.

I hope some of this has helped. It just about kills me ever time I lose one, but I try to at least be unselfishly grateful that they are now at peace, no longer sick or in pain. And, remember, they never really leave us completely.

If you love cats, please check out my new


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