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Stages of Grief You May Experience When Your Pet Dies

Updated on January 27, 2014

The animal that you loved and cared for on a daily basis…is gone…no longer with you. No longer will they greet you at the door…happy to see you…a greeting like no other. No longer do they need your care or your attention…for they have left this earth and have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Losing a beloved pet is extremely difficult. In fact, it is a downright painful experience. The intense sadness that you feel after saying goodbye to a pet is real and should not be ignored. It is very important that you allow yourself time to grieve…in your own way…in your own time.

I believe that you must grieve in order to heal. You must acknowledge your feelings and make peace with them. Once you have done this, you will be able to move forward and eventually, one day, you will be able to look back and think fondly of your beloved pet…with a smile on your face.

Carson - BEADWORK GARDEN STEPPING STONE - PET FOOTPRINT
Carson - BEADWORK GARDEN STEPPING STONE - PET FOOTPRINT

Do something special to remember your pet.

 
Willow Tree Angel of Friendship
Willow Tree Angel of Friendship

Give a special gift to a friend that has lost a beloved pet.

 

Stages of Grief You May Experience

There are actually several stages of grief that you may experience after losing your pet. You will most likely go through a series of emotions…trust me, this is completely normal. People react to loss in different ways. Some grieve for months or years…while others seem to feel better in a matter of days. No matter how long it takes you to accept and grieve the loss of your pet…know that your feelings are real and most importantly know that it is OK to feel the way you do. Below are several stages of grief that you may experience. Remember, deal with your feelings…and if necessary…turn to a close friend or family member if you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean on. After all, we all need a helping hand now and again.

 

  • Shock, Doubt and Denial

This can be considered the "I can't believe my pet is gone" stage as it can be incredibly difficult to believe and finally admit that your beloved pet has passed away. In a way, this is your brain's way of protecting itself from the extreme wave of grief that is about to hit. However, the sooner you accept your loss…the sooner you can move forward and begin to heal.

  • Anger, Confusion, Resentment and Blame

I know this stage all too well. When my Beagle died…first I cried (a lot). Then I became extremely angry. I wanted my dog back and I was mad that she had been "taken from me." I blamed myself and questioned the medical care I had provided for her. Was it enough? Was there something else I could have done? Did I not spend enough money…were their better canine doctor's I could've taken her too? I questioned everything I had ever done for my dog. I was angry because I missed my dog and knowing that I would never pet her, walk her or even play with her ever again was too much to bear. It is OK to feel anger when your pet dies. After all, you have something to be angry and upset about! It is also normal to be filled with resentment and even be irritated with those around you. Don't be afraid to tell people that you have lost your pet. By doing so you will be giving them a better understanding as to why you may be having a hard time, feeling sad, or even a little short tempered. Most friends and co-workers will understand as many of them have gone through the same experience.

  • Guilt and Regret

When you lose a pet, it is almost impossible NOT to feel guilty. After all, few pets die naturally…most of the time we must make the difficult decision to euthanize them. It is completely normal to wonder if the right decision was made. You may begin to doubt your decision and wish you could take it back. You may feel guilty and regret your decision for many weeks, months and for some people…years to come. No matter how long it takes for you to come to terms with the decision you made, know that what you did was the right thing…the HUMANE thing. Though your pet is no longer with you…and that is sad…try to find happiness in the fact that you freed your pet from pain, from a body that was no longer working properly, from a life in which the quality had vanished. Guilt and regret can begin to overwhelm you. If possible, don't let that happen. If necessary, talk to a close friend or family member so that they can reassure you that you did, in fact, do the right thing. You may even ask to talk the veterinarian that treated your pet. They, too, will reassure you that you did right by your furry friend.

People deal with loss in different ways. After all, we are all individuals with our own thoughts and feelings. Know that how you feel is PERFECTLY NORMAL! One minute you may be laughing and thinking of happy times with your pet…the next you may be crying and wishing you had done more or provided better medical care. Over time, you WILL feel better, I promise! If, for some reason, you just can't seem to get past the loss of your pet, do not be ashamed to seek professional help or call a pet loss support line. Many people do. Many people care.

I have written two other HUBS that deal with pet loss. I truly hope they help you. God Bless!

When to Say Goodbye to Your Dog or Cat

Special Ways You Can Honor Your Pet After They Cross Over the Rainbow Bridge

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    • Cygstarz profile image
      Author

      Cygstarz 5 years ago from Maryland

      Jane...

      I'm worried about you! I think you should talk to a friend or family member...someone that can help you and make you feel better. Think of it this way...if Leo was upset and in pain every time you tried to give him an injection...that was no way for him to live! You gave him the best life possible...right up until the end. You didn't want to cause Leo grief and pain in the end...so you made the RIGHT decision. Leo was sick and you freed him from pain and illness. He loved you...so please know that you did the right thing. Putting a pet "to sleep" is a VERY VERY hard decision....but remember...many people have to make this tough decision EVERY day so you are NOT alone. I truly hope you feel better soon...you just need to give yourself some time. Take care.

    • Jane Sunderland profile image

      Jane Sunderland 5 years ago

      Thank u so much cor reolying to me at thge nomet I am uin a flood of tears because if I could only have handled injecting him for diabetes I might have him for a few years longer but he was so anbgry with me everytuine I trued to inject him it broke my heart that I was hurting him - I'm not handling his passing well and I really just wabt to die

    • Cygstarz profile image
      Author

      Cygstarz 5 years ago from Maryland

      Hi Jane. Thank you for your comment. I'm so sorry about Leo. I have had to euthanize many pets over the years and it never gets any easier. I love to adopt older dogs (they need love too!)....the only bad thing is they are not with me as long as I would like. The good news is that you will feel better. It may take some time...but I promise that you will. Know that you did the right thing and Leo is now running free and at peace. When I had to let go of my Beagle I never thought I would get over it. Eventually, I did. I'm not going to lie....I sometimes have a sad thought and my heart aches just a bit...but trust me when I say I have many more HAPPY memories now that time has passed. The way you feel is completely normal...just hang in there....it will get better. Take care of yourself.

    • Jane Sunderland profile image

      Jane Sunderland 5 years ago

      Thank u for making me feel less guilt in euthanising my beloved leo. I miss him so much ten weeks on still feels like yesterday and I too want to die

    • profile image

      Gigi 6 years ago

      Thank you so much now I don't feel as abnormal or strange with being so angry so much. I hope to get another pet as soon as I feel more comfortable about it :)

    • Cygstarz profile image
      Author

      Cygstarz 7 years ago from Maryland

      Hi Ella...thank you for your comment. Trust me when I say that I completely understand how you feel! I lost a dog in August of this year and it was very painful for me. The good news is that over time, you will heal and begin to feel better. I still miss my beagle, I always will...but instead of feeling sad when I think about her...I try to remember all of the good times we had together. I hope you feel better soon!

    • profile image

      Ella 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for writing this. I lost my dog yesterday and wish someone understood how much I ache for him.

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