Letting go of guilt
Unfortunately, as you try to heal after the loss of your pet, you may be stunted by feelings of guilt. Guilty feelings can result from feeling responsible for your pet’s death and are common even when there was nothing left to do to prevent the inevitable.
When the guilt intensifies or won’t “go away”, it can be damaging to self esteem and to other relationships. It can distort your image of yourself, destroy your self-confidence and undermine your strength.
Guilt can keep you stuck in the grief journey and prevent you from moving through your grief, so Day By Day has some suggestions to help you work through and dealing with your guilt and regrets.
Realize guilt is normal
It’s normal to wish you could have done more or done things differently in your pet caregiving because you loved your pet. You may wonder: Did I do all I possibly could? Should I have waited a little longer? Would things have turned out differently if I did X or Y? Should I have spent more on my pet’s medical care?
When there are no certain answers to all of these questions, you can put yourself on a “guilt trip” that can lead to a state of depression. The most vital step in coping with feelings of guilt upon the loss of a pet is acknowledging your feelings and expressing them.
Don’t beat yourself up
You can’t go back in time. You are human, and we all make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up for your decisions. Remember you did what you thought was right at the time and all your decisions were made with your pet’s best interest in mind.
Anger turned inward
Guilt has been described as anger turned inward. Try to redirect your feelings to the times that you shared with your pet in good health; the life that you enjoyed together and to the times that you provided for your pet and took great care of your pet.
Speak to your veterinarian
If you have lingering questions about how you handled your pet’s condition, it may help to speak to your veterinarian or a Day By Day team member. You may feel a need to “make sense” or figure out “why did this happen?” Sometimes it is not known exactly what lead to a pet’s death. In such cases, people feel guilty as a result of not understanding the events or illness that lead to a pet’s death. Asking your veterinarian to clarify the cause of death can be helpful.
The universe put you and your pet together in the first place. Now try to see the bigger picture so you can move through your grief. The way to move forward and honor your beloved pet is to remember you did the best you could with the information and resources you had at the time. Learn from your pet. Learn from the life, love and challenges you experienced together. By realizing that guilt and regrets are normal and will soften in time will hopefully be a comfort to you.