**Warning: this blog posting is a tear jerker!**
Losing a pet is never easy. Any of our staff members are here to listen and console you.
If you are grieving for an animal that is sick or one that has died, you are not alone. The loss of a companion animal is often as painful as the loss of a best friend. It is important for you to realize that grieving for a pet is no different than mourning the death of a human being.
A good relationship with a pet has been shown to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, help heart disease patients recover more quickly, give the elderly new purpose in life and much more. Pet therapy is now used in many hospitals and nursing homes worldwide. Pets can work so many miracles in our everyday lives. Understanding your pet’s value in your life is an important part of understanding why its loss is so traumatic.
When It’s Time to Say Goodbye
We are never prepared for the loss of a pet. Whether death is swift and unexpected or whether it comes at the end of a slow decline, few of us are fully aware of what a pet means to our lives until our companion is gone. Everyone privately hopes their pet will have a peaceful passing when its time arrives. However, the impact of a pet’s death is significantly increased when we have to face the most difficult decision: to have a pet euthanized.
Euthanasia is the induction of painless death. In veterinary practice, it is accomplished by an intravenous injection of a concentrated dose of anesthetic. The animal is always sedated before this injection. The animal may feel slight discomfort when the needle tip passes through the skin, but this is no greater than for any other injection. The euthanasia solution takes only seconds to induce a total loss of consciousness. This is soon followed by respiratory depression and cardiac arrest. Your pet will then be at peace.
Veterinarians don’t exercise the euthanasia option lightly. Their medical training and professional lives are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. They are very aware of the balance between extending an animal’s life and prolonging its suffering. We need to understand that euthanasia is a humane way to end a pets suffering.
Reaching the Decision
Consider the following questions when preparing to make the decision to euthanize your pet. Only you can decide what the best solution is for you and your pet. Take your time and discuss it with your family and veterinarian.
- What is the current quality of my pet’s life?
- Is my pet eating well? Is it playful and affectionate towards me?
- Is my pet interested in activity surrounding it?
- Does my pet seem tired and withdrawn most of the time?
- Is my pet in apparent pain?
- Is there anything I can do to make my pet more comfortable?
- Are there other treatment options available?
- Will I want to be present during the euthanasia?
- Do I want my pet cremated? Do I want the ashes back or not?
Children and the Death of a Pet
When a child experiences the death of a beloved pet, he or she may experience emotional reactions that can be painful and frightening. Children process their thoughts and feelings by “doing.” By helping to guide your children, you will be giving them an important life tool that they will never forget. Below are several ways to help children cope with these reactions in a healthy way:
- Making a scrapbook of your pet’s life
- Making a contribution to an animal organization in your pet’s memory
- Fostering an animal that needs temporary care
- Attending a pet loss support group
Seniors and Pet Loss
The loss of a loved companion can be especially difficult for older adults. Often, you have already experienced the loss of loved ones. In many cases, pets become the most important companion for talking to, caring for, sleeping with and sharing unconditional love with. They become family members and best friends, so the loss of a beloved animal can be overwhelming.
During the time of grief it is common and recommended to seek out others who are compassionate, sensitive and supportive to the very real and painful loss you are feeling. Such support can be critical to coping and recovering from such a significant loss.
The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called
The Rainbow Bridge.
When a beloved pet dies who has been especially close to someone here,
that pet goes to The Rainbow Bridge.
It is a land of meadows, hills and valleys.
There is always plenty of food and water and sunshine, and
our friends are warm and comfortable.
Those who were old and frail are young again – restored to health and vigor;
Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again.
The animals are content and happy with each other.
But there is something missing.
They are not with their special people who loved them on earth –
the ones who were left behind.
Then the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance.
The bright eyes are intent;
the eager body quivers.
Suddenly he breaks away from the group, flying over the green grass;
his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been seen.
And when you and your special friend meet,
you take him in your arms and embrace.
The happy kisses rain upon your face.
Your hands again caress the beloved head.
You look once more into the trusting eyes of your friend.
And then, together, you cross The Rainbow Bridge.
Never again to be separated.