The circumstances of the death can also
add to our heartache. If our beloved companion dies without warning, as with accident or sudden onset illness, we can berate
ourselves for our carelessness: How did this happen? What symptoms did I miss? What could I have done to prevent it?
Sometimes we are caring for a pet because a family member has died and the animal is left without a home. Not only does
the pet become a friend over time, but the bond represents a living, loving connection to our deceased loved one. When this
cherished companion dies, sorrow may intensify as we grieve anew for our other losses.
Grief is an expression of
our love for the dear one who has died and none of us experiences the death of a beloved pet in the same way. There is no
right or wrong way to grieve. Whatever helps you cope, whatever eases your pain, whatever brings you peace—these are
the right ways to express your sorrow.
No one can tell us how long or in what manner we should grieve, but there
are phases of grief that we will likely pass through: shock and denial, anger, depression and finally, acceptance. The phases
of grief are difficult to bear, but they are all part of the natural reaction to loss. As most of us discover, however, we
do not experience grief in a neat, step-by-step way. Our emotions can be all over the place because grief is messy.
Consider, too, that each member of your family had a different relationship
with the departed pet. Each member will have a different reaction to the loss. The important thing is that you all accept
your feelings for what they are and find ways to express them.
If you have other pets, you may find that they are
also grieving. Signs of companion animal grief include listlessness, a refusal to eat or drink, yowling, whimpering, over-grooming,
frequent meowing, or wandering from room to room. You will most help your surviving pet grieve by showing him extra attention
and care during this painful time. Refer to Pet Grieiving: How Pets Mourn the Loss of a Companion by Gary Le Mon
at Natural-Wonders-Pets.com for more information.Please note
: Consult your veterinarian if your pet displays any
of these symptoms because they can indicate a medical condition that needs attention. Once illness is ruled out, most animal
experts believe that it can take up to six months for the symptoms of your pet's grief to disappear. If your pet goes outdoors,
it is wise to restrict unsupervised access to the outside for a while because your pet may wander off in search of his lost
One of the most agonizing decisions we will ever make is authorizing euthanasia.
Even if the pet has suffered a long time, we may doubt ourselves afterward: Was it the right thing to do? When you find yourself
questioning your actions, it is important to recall the circumstances that led up to the decision: Could your pet recover
from the illness or injury? Was your pet's condition deteriorating? Was the course irreversible? Did your beloved pet experience
more pain than pleasure in life? Did you choose quality of life over quantity of years?
Ending the life of a suffering
animal is the loving, compassionate, unselfish thing to do. It is the final act of caring. Your friend closed his eyes for
the last time knowing that his trust in you was well placed. He was always safest in your care. In the end, you loved him
enough to set him free.