Pet Grief and Loss

Published on January 25, 2014 by in Blog

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One of the most difficult parts of pet ownership, and being a pet sitter in Gilbert, too, is facing the loss of a pet. Whether the illness was sudden and unexpected, or the end of a long struggle with a chronic disease, losing our pets is not unlike losing a family member. We often develop the most intense bond with our pets and it can, and often is, like losing a child, especially for those pet owners who see their pets *as* their children.

And if we have to make the difficult decision to help them cross the Rainbow Bridge to end their suffering, that loss is often compounded by difficult feelings of guilt, anger, and sadness. I know when I had to let my cat Storm go 2 1/2 years ago, the remorse and guilt I felt was nearly unbearable. Did I do enough to help her? What if I had taken her to the vet sooner, more often, spent more money on her care, gone to a different vet, etc. The thoughts were endless. But ultimately I did what was best for her and said good bye in the most loving way I knew how holding her at the end to end her suffering.

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My beloved fur-baby, Storm, who I loved for 16 years

After we lose a pet, many of us experience feelings that are similar to as if we’d lost a close friend or relative. In fact many people go through the stages of grief. Understand that grieving is a very personal process and should never be rushed or minimized, even for a pet.  It took me over a year to come to terms with Storm’s loss even though I still had 2 other cats.

The important thing in our grieving process is that we reach out and get support if we need it!! There should be no embarrassment in this and anyone who tells you, “It was just a dog/cat/rabbit, etc.” is NOT being supportive!

This website, http://www.caaainc.org/petgriefsupport.htm ,  based here in Arizona, offers many wonderful resources for pet owners to deal with their grief including pet support groups, a pet grief hotline, and after care services for those who wish to honor their pets memory, among many other fine resources.

Sometimes as your Gilbert pet sitter, we have to say goodbye to our client’s pets as well – and we’ve come to love them almost as much as you. We’ve had to say goodbye to many client’s pets. 🙁  We share in your grief and loss.  We may not be able to hold on to our pets forever, and we may miss them after they move on, but I know that our pets would not want us to be sad. Whatever means we need to heal and open our hearts again to another furry, feathery baby in our house, is what our beloved fur-kids would want for us. The point of our pets, I believe, is unconditional love and could they speak to us after they’re gone, they’d say heal as quickly as you can because there are many more fur babies waiting to fill your life with joy again!

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