Stages of Grief
During a single human lifetime a number of pets' lifetimes may pass. As we recall each pet that shared our time, it seems that they never stayed with us quite long enough. The sudden death of a pet as a result of euthanasia or a long terminal illness or other natural cause of death elicits many uncontrollable emotional stages in the people who loved them. These stages range from anger, guilt, denial to depression before you find resolution and acceptance.
Denial, is felt when you learn your pet is going to die or that is has succumbed to death and you can't face it. You may look for another medical opinion, a reason for why this is happening to you if you have received news that your pet has a terminal disease. You may not acknowledge the death of your pet and keeping speaking of him/her in the living sense.
Anger may be an emotional response to the loss of your pet. It can cause you to lash out at people you care about. Your anger will make you think the ones who care about you have let you down. You will feel that they could have and should have been more assistance to you. You may become angry about the situation, that you are without your pet, and even that you have been let down by your faith. Sometimes you don't even know why you are angry. You will want to know "WHY" this has happened to you.
Guilt may follow, with feelings that you should have done more, noticed the situation sooner, should not have let the pet get into a dangerous situation, or that you should have had enough money to treat or continue to treat the condition.
Depression may come in waves, as minor as a misplaced tear on your cheek, or so severe that you don't want to get out of bed. Some grief-stricken owners contemplate whether life can go on without their pet as part of it. Minor depression is normal and can takes days, weeks or months to pass. Even years later a special memory that includes your lost pet may bring a tear to your eye. Pet bereavement counselors, pet loss support groups, clergy, or therapists should become involved if you are unable to accept the loss of your pet or are inconsolable in the loss.
Resolution that your pet has passed on due to factors beyond your control or within your control. Your veterinarian can often times help explain or provide you with literature regarding your pet's condition that you may read as you are ready to accept the loss of your pet. Sometimes the explanation is helpful with the grieving process.
Acceptance is the final stage of grieving. It means that you feel sad but accept that your pet is no longer living. You also realize that you must continue to carry on your regular daily tasks or develop new ones without the involvement of a pet. You have the right to a happy life.
Grieving for Your Pet
The loss of one pet vs another creates different feelings each time. When you picked out your puppy or kitten, you knew that someday you would face your pet's mortality. It's inevitable because pets don't live as long as we do. Every individual pet owner faces the loss of each pet slightly differently from other owners and previous pets. Animals provide an unconditional love to human beings. Pets are markers in our lives that help create fond memories during emotional times, help us find comfort during those times, and revel in the sheer joy of living the rest of the time. No wonder we get so attached! They are always there for us when it seems other human beings have let us down. No wonder we grieve when they are gone.