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Healing & Letting Go of Guilt
Guilty feelings can result from feeling responsible for your pet's condition. For many pet owners, guilt is common even when there is nothing they can do to prevent the situation.
 
You might feel guilty when you find out your pet has a terminal disease or injury because you believe you should have noticed your pet's symptoms earlier. Others feel guilty if they take finances or other personal circumstances into consideration when making treatment decisions. Still others feel guilty about decisions or actions that may have contributed to their pet's condition. No matter what the circumstances, guilt has a way of keeping you stuck in the grief process.
 
Here are some suggestions to help you work through guild and let it go:
 
  • Realize it's normal to wish you could have done more or to wish you had made an alternate decision. It's normal to question your decisions or behaviors because you love your pet.
     
    Beating yourself up for these "if-only's" does not change what has passed. Recognize you are human and identify the reasons for your actions and decisions at the time they were made, before you had any hindsight of the situation. 
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  • Remember you did what you thought was right at the time. You did it with the intention of love.
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  • Think from the perspective of your beloved animal. What would they tell you about the way you are feeling? What would they want you to do?
Grieving a loss is hard enough for a person to do without the additional emotional weight of guilt on one's heart. Considering the meaning of the word "guilt," you will find that intent is required for guilt to be truly valid. What were your intentions for how you cared for and loved your animal? When you have the best of intentions for your pet's life, guilt has no valid place to stay. Once you are able to let go of the guilt, you can fully grieve.

Signs You are Beginning to Heal

Grief can make you feel as if you are moving in slow motion. As you adapt to the changes, you may notice your pace increasing. You are healing, one day at a time. Remember, just because your grief eases does not mean that the pet you've lost is any less important or less loved. You will always love and remember this special animal. You are giving yourself permission to go on with your life and may even discover personal growth from the grief you've experienced.