FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How will I know when?
Although it is never an easy decision to make, this can be perhaps the kindest act you can do for a pet that is extremely ill or debilitated from the ravages of aging. If your pet can no longer experience the quality of life it once enjoyed, cannot respond to you in its usual ways, or appears to be experiencing more pain than pleasure, euthanasia might be the most humane option. We encourage pet owners to ask themselves the question, “Does my pet have more bad days than good days?” The answer to that question might be helpful in making the best decision. It is only natural to want our pets to be with us forever, but, making a decision based on the pet’s quality of life, although difficult, may be necessary in order to make the most compassionate and humane choice.
How do I tell my family?
Family members are generally aware of the family pet’s health issues and difficulties. However, it is prudent to review with all family members the information you have received from your veterinarian and discuss the debilitating problems the pet may have and the burden of long term care and quality of life issues. These should be discussed openly and honestly. Encourage family members to express their thoughts and feelings. Even if the decision has already been made, it is important that family members, especially children, have their thoughts and feeling considered and valued in the decision making process.
How can I say goodbye?
The act of saying goodbye is an important step in managing the natural and healthy feeling of grief and sorrow feeling the loss of a beloved friend and companion. Once the decision has been made it is best to gather the family members that may want to say goodbye and allow them a few moments to do so. Some families experience closure by sharing special stories about their pet. Some choose to be with their pet during the euthanasia process, but others choose to say goodbye beforehand and not be present during the euthanasia. This is a very personal decision and we encourage pet owners to do what feels right for them. No one should feel pressured into making a choice that feels uncomfortable in any way. Some choose to leave and say good-by after the sedation is administered and the pet is fast asleep and some choose to stay for the entire process. The choice is yours and we are here to help you through the process in the way that best suits your and your family.
How can I face the loss?
After your pet has passed, it is natural to feel grief and sorrow. The grieving process includes accepting the reality of your loss, accepting that the loss and accompanying feelings are painful, and adjusting to a life that no longer includes your pet. By understanding the grieving process, you will be better prepared to manage your grief and to help others in your family who share your loss.
Sometimes well-meaning family and friends may not realize how important your pet was to you or the intensity of your grief. Comment s they make may seem cruel and uncaring although they are not meant to be taken that way. Be honest with yourself and others about how you feel. If you feel despair, talk to someone who will listen to your feelings about the loss of your pet. Talk about your sorrow, but also about the fun times you and your pet shared together, and the memories that were meaningful to you.
Stages of Grief.
There are many stages of grief, but not everyone experiences them all or in the same order. The stages include denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance, and resolution. Your grief can seem to come in waves, may be brought on more intensely by the sight and sound that sparks your memory, and may seem overwhelming at times.
Denial may be your first reaction. Denial is an unwillingness to accept the fact that your pet has passed or that your pet is in a terminal condition and will pass soon. Often, if your pet’s condition deteriorates rapidly or death is sudden, the denial process is accentuated.
Anger and Guilt often follow denial. Your anger may be directed toward people you normally love and respect such as family, friends or your veterinarian. People coping with a loss often say things they do not mean and unintentionally hurt people around them. You may feel guilty or blame others for not acting sooner or recognizing the seriousness of your pet’s condition.
Depression is a common experience after the death of a special friend. Tears flow and you feel as though there is a giant knot in your stomach. You have no energy and daily tasks feel impossible to accomplish. Some isolate themselves from family and friends. You might feel as though you simply cannot go on without your beloved friend by your side. If you find yourself having these intense and profound feelings of loss, especially if they last for long periods of time, you may consider getting help from a professional to assist you in coping with your loss.
Resolution and Acceptance occurs when you can come to terms with your loss. This does not mean that you did not love or have forgotten your pet. It means that you have come to terms with the loss and accepted that your pet has passed. These emotions surrounding your loss eventually will be replaced with fond memories of the time spent with your friend. Understand that this is a normal process and that it takes time.
Remembering your pet
The period from birth to old age is much shorter for our pets and death is a normal part of this lifecycle. For some people a memorial service or ritual such as scattering ashes in a special place can be therapeutic. You may want to keep a collar with a photo of your pet as a reminder of the love you felt and the special bond you shared with your pet. The grieving process is different for everyone and there is no one right way. It is personal and may be shared with those who shared your love.
Should I get another pet?
Pets touch our hearts and make our lives better. Thus we feel such a tremendous loss. Getting a new pet is not meant to replace our last pet; it is more about who we are. Just as grief is a personal experience the decision of when, if ever, to bring a new pet into our life is a personal one. Some people take longer than others, if at all. Family members should agree on the appropriate time to bring a new pet into you home.