I’m writing this post with a heavy heart and am crying as I write this. On Monday morning, our family cat and loyal friend, Prissy, was euthanized in our home. My family and I decided that this was best for her. She was a very important part of our family. She was 19 1/2 years old and had serious health issues. There are many things that my family and I can be grateful for… she gave us many joyous moments and companionship, and her lack of suffering when her health was declining.
The loss of a beloved pet can be emotionally devastating. There’s simply no way to sugar coat that reality. As they say, grief is the price of love. The more we love, the deeper we grieve, but the rewards of that love are well worth it.
Deeply-feeling, highly sensitive people may experience an even longer lasting feeling of grief and loss than normal. Thus, it’s important that we have a strategy to help us through these difficult times. I would like to give you some of the things that are helping me and my family during this difficult time.
- Don’t minimize your loss. While we all know that pets have shorter life spans than we do, and that we will outlive them, it’s always devastating when the time comes. I’ve had pets all my life, and this NEVER gets easier! A family pet represents a significant emotional investment in your life. Don’t ignore the importance of this loss or be embarrassed by it. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself enough time to work through your feelings.
- Share your feelings and seek comfort from others. Talk about your feelings with your family and friends, especially those who are animal lovers. It’s okay to cry if you need to. Don’t be ashamed to seek professional help if you need it.
- Let go of the guilt! After the loss of a pet, many pet owners will somehow find a way to feel guilty, regardless of how well they cared for their pet. You may have thoughts like…”I should have known this, or I should have done this, or I wish I could have afforded better care, or I wish I had spent more time with my pet, and on and on. These feeling are normal but not helpful at all. Beating yourself up will not change anything and will only make you feel worse. Instead, trust that you did the best that you could for your pet. Understand that your pet is out of pain. You are the one in pain now, and now is the time to take care of YOU.
- Make the time to rest. Since emotional and physical energy are easily depleted by grief, it’s extremely important to exercise self-care when coping with intense emotions. Be sure to re-charge your batteries by having enough alone time, eating well, and getting proper rest.
- Remember the good times. It was very helpful when my family and I looked at photos of Prissy. We have more photos of her and our other cat, Charlie, than we have of ourselves! It was comforting to reminisce about the fun times and to see her when she was at her happiest and healthiest. While I wish Prissy could have been with us longer, I am extremely grateful for the time that we did have. Even though my family and I feel REALLY sad right now, I would do it all over again in a heatbeat. All those wonderful years of love and companionship were so worth it!
- Have a proper ending. A proper ending for your pet is a very individualized thing. It’s important that you do what’s comfortable and appropriate for you. We wanted Prissy to be as comfortable as possible by being with us in her last moments in her home. We decided on cremation. Prissy’s ashes will be in a small container in a glass bookcase, along with a photo of her. This is a fitting tribute to Prissy that my family and I are comfortable with.
Good bye Prissy, our sweet girl! Thank you so much for the wonderful memories. Thank you for being such a loving companion for the past 19 1/2 years. We love you and miss you already! I have faith that I will someday see you again. I have to believe that!
When our pets pass on, they always leave us with a gift. Our hearts are so much bigger, and we are forever enriched, for having loved them!
How do you cope with the death of a beloved pet? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.
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