What Can I Expect to Feel?

Different people experience grief in different ways. Besides your sorrow and loss, you may also experience the following emotions:

  • Guilt may occur if you feel responsible for your pet’s death-the “if only I had been more careful” syndrome. It is pointless and often erroneous to burden yourself with guilt for the accident or illness that claimed your pet’s life, and only makes it more difficult to resolve your grief.
  • Denial makes it difficult to accept that your pet is really gone. It’s hard to imagine that your pet won’t greet you when you come home, or that it doesn’t need its evening meal. Some pet owners carry this to extremes, and fear their pet is still alive and suffering somewhere. Others find it hard to get a new pet for fear of being “disloyal” to the old.
  • Anger may be directed at the illness that killed your pet, the driver of the speeding car, the veterinarian who “failed” to save its life. Sometimes it is justified, but when carried to extremes, it distracts you from the important task of resolving your grief.
  • Depression is a natural consequence of grief, but can leave you powerless to cope with your feelings. Extreme depression robs you of motivation and energy, causing you to dwell upon your sorrow.

by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.

2 Responses

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