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Suffering from the Loss of a Pet Companion? Ask the Experts


The loss of a beloved pet companion can be just as hard as losing a human friend or family member. Deep bonds develop between human and pet and each truly love and cherish each other. Are you having trouble understanding or confronting the grief you feel over a lost pet? You are not alone. Cachet Village Animal Hospital offers support with articles here and resources offered at our veterinary office in Markham.

Connecting with Mr. T. C. after Death
by Kelly Baltzell, M.A.


Dear Karin,


I had my Mr. T. C. (kitty cat) for 17 1/2 years; he was 20 1/2 when he died. I found him at the age of 3 wondering, looking for a home and most of all love.


My question is, how can I connect with him after death? I have purchased a locket and plan to put some of his ashes in the locket. Will that help to connect with him or should I use some of his hair in the locket?


As you have guessed, he was my best friend.
Please advise me.



Dear Reader:
How wonderful that you want to be in touch with your Mr. T.C. Of course, it is always so sad and difficult to lose some darling pet, and we are sorry for your loss. I really think the locket is a lovely idea, and should help you feel "connected" to your kitty in a nice way.


I don't think it would matter which remembrance that you put in the locket, hair or ashes. My feeling is that you should let your intuition guide you, and put in what you feel is best...or maybe a combination of the two. The important thing is the loving link you have with Mr. T.C. Sometimes the most powerful way to link with a pet is to go sit in that special spot that your cat loved, and close your eyes, and think of him, and all the happy times, or only one happy time, you had together. See yourself being with him, doing what he loved to do with you best, and allow all the happy thoughts, the loving thoughts, surround and fill you.


Best of memories, and do keep in touch and let us know how you are doing, and what worked best for you. Perhaps your discoveries will help others along the way.


Karin
Kelly Baltzell is the founder of Beyond Indigo. She has her masters in counseling and psychology.

Dog's Recent Death
by Karin Baltzell, Ph.D.


Dear Karin,


I am having a hard time coping with my dog's recent death. It started back in February when he started becoming sick. We didn't know why. Well soon they took an X-ray of his stomach to find out. They thought he had a tumour and wanted to know if when they opened him up it would be removable and should they wake him up. I was so upset. Well I said yes, wake him up. The next day they found out he had a piece of carpeting (from I don't know where) stuck in his stomach. They removed it and he came home a week later. He was back to his old self, playing with the Frisbee and his football, acting like he was 2 not 8.


A couple of weeks later, I noticed he wouldn't put his head down to pick up the ball or to drink the water. I took him to the vet and many tests over many weeks were done. He was also losing function in his back end. They did everything from Lyme tests to X-rays. Damen then stopped eating. We took him to an internal medicine vet our vet had referred. They thought he was ulcerating in his intestine from the anti-inflammatories he was taking. They did an ultrasound in his abdomen and it appeared normal. The next day he had taken out his IV and spiked a fever again after they just got it down from 105. They did another ultrasound of his abdomen and saw something in the corner by his esophagus. The did an X-ray and said his esophagus was the largest they had ever seen. They called the disease megaesophagus which they thought came from a disease that attacked the limbs, making them weak. They had said there really wasn't anything they could do because it was so bad.


He had aspiration pneumonia too and had probably lost 20lbs. My husband and I came up to see him one last time with our other 2 dogs. He was definitely uncomfortable. We decided to stay with him when they put him down. I thought it would make him less nervous. The doctor was trying to get him to lay down but I think it was uncomfortable the way he was pushing on him to lay so I think that made him nervous, Then, the next thing I knew, he was gone – that quickly I am having a hard time adjusting since just last month he was running around with so much energy. I am doubting my decision to put him down and having a hard time coping with what he probably was thinking we were doing to him. Please help
me.



Dear Reader:
So sorry to hear about your dog's death. What a difficult time for you!


Dogs are very intuitive, and although Damen may have seemed like he was thinking unkind or worried things when you put him to sleep, most likely he was trying to tell you that he would be fine once this procedure was over. I'm sure he knew that you and your husband loved him very much!


From what you told me, it would seem that you had absolutely NO choice in the matter, and putting Damen down was the very best thing for him. I know it appears harsh from our human perspective, but giving your dog a chance to be healthy and pain- free is a wonderful thing. Death is not the end for an animal, and it seems often as if they are able to move right out of their physical body and keep on playing and being happy! It is just us poor humans that don't see that, and of course, it makes us sad.


Perhaps in time you will find some peace in your absolutely correct decision. I hope so. Meanwhile, collect happy memories, and perhaps get a picture of Damen and frame it, and put it someplace where you can see it, and allow it (and Damen) to make you feel more settled about what had to be done. Think as many happy thoughts about him as you can, and I'm sure he will feel how much you still care!


Do let us know how you are getting along.


Karin
Karin is a staff writer and editor for Beyond Indigo. She holds her Ph.D. in psychology.

Euthanasia Guilt & Your Pet
by Kitty Walker, LMSW-ACP


Dear Kitty,


How do we work through the guilt of putting down our 10-year-old rottie, even though she was fully aware and mentally sharp but arthritis had made her back legs useless?


A and T



Dear friends,


I am sorry that you had to go through this experience with your rottie. Making the euthanasia decision for a beloved pet has to be one of the most agonizing crossroads a human can confront in life. Obviously, you made the decision based on seeing her struggle with a poor quality of life, and now you are left with the pangs of guilt that are common to all who travel in your shoes.


In terms of "working through" the feelings of guilt, I would recommend that you first of all see them as an inevitable part of the grief process --- especially for those who are forced into the decision regarding euthanasia. One works through the feelings by first of all allowing them, then talking about them, and perhaps writing about them. When you feel bogged down by guilt feelings, it might be helpful to consider the memory of your healthy, mobile rottie and the loss of her quality of life when arthritis took away the use of her legs. You could not give her back her legs, which I am sure you would have done if you could, but you could ease her pain and suffering in a way that she could not do for herself.


My heart goes out to the two of you at this time. May your healing be deep, and may you find comfort in both your memories and the knowledge that you did the best you could when confronted with the most painful dilemma a pet owner has to face.


Kitty
Ask Kitty is a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss issues which humans encounter when their pets die. She has worked in this area for a number of years, providing counseling to people at this special time of need. She also provides consultation and education to employees of veterinary clinics in her area.

Getting Another Pet
by Karin Baltzell, Ph.D.


Dear Karin,


I was just searching the web for grievance websites (my grandmother just passed away) when i found your column. My pet cat (Kitty actually was her name) died more than 2 years ago. I was away at the time. I had started a new job 1000 miles away and had left Kitty at home with my parents where she had lived all her life instead of taking her to an empty apartment with me. She passed away about 6 moths after I left apparently due to multiple organ failure. The thought of this still brings tears to my eyes.


This death still affects me today as much as it did the day I found out and I sometimes wonder if that's normal. I'm also afraid to get another cat. Part of me feels that there's no point because I will again get attached and it will most likely end in sadness for me. I did get a pet bird when I moved, and he's great, but it's just not the same as a cat. Do you think it would be healthy to get another cat? Do you think that I will change? I really do love cats and I loved my cat so much and treasured her companionship. I'm just afraid of another attachment. Any advice would be appreciated.



Dear Reader:


It would seem that you have a desire to get another cat after two years, or else you would not be asking the question. Even though you have pain over your kitty’s death after these long months, you will never forget her. She will always remain special. However, getting another animal might make your life feel more warm, loving, and secure. Yes, when your new kitty dies, you will feel loss and pain, however, it would seem you are feeling that right now, without a cat. Perhaps if you got a new kitten, it would give you many years of happiness and comfort, without the pain. When it is his or her time to die, it will hurt, but it will also give you a feeling of having been better for having loved, and been loved, by another creature.


Once we experience a loss, we are quite sensitive to not wanting to feel that way ever again. However, it is my experience with many people that we cannot "save" ourselves from pain. We can only go bravely forth and enjoy all the good times. Then, when the bad times come, we have a little cushion to fall on, or, if you like, you have some emotional money in the bank to draw on because of the nice times. And, with that thought, you can change/will change, and you will probably surprise yourself!


Do let me know what you decide. Thanks for writing us at Beyond Indigo. And blessings on you now that you have lost both your cat and your grandmother.


Karin
Karin is a staff writer and editor for Beyond Indigo. She holds her Ph.D. in psychology.

Guilt Is All-Consuming
by Karin Baltzell, Ph.D.


I have a major dilemma that is weighing very heavy on my heart and I am looking for guidance and hopefully forgiveness.


First, please know, I would never do anything to intentionally harm an animal. I am an animal lover - through and through – so much so that I say a prayer for road kill (pardon that expression). I personally have one kitten and I find it difficult to say "no" to her. I feed and tend to two Chihuahuas, two goats, and two other cats at my house (none of which are mine) on a daily basis. Also, there are nine or ten cats at my place of business that I tend to as well. Additionally, I carry cat food (both dry and moist) in my vehicle, just in case I see a stray in a parking lot or along the side of the road. Since it is difficult to catch strays, I simply leave a pile of food for them to eat so they will not go hungry, at least for one night.


The reason for my heavy heart is this: There is a stray cat that has made a home at my place and has been there for over two years. She has become part of the family. She had five kittens a few months ago. One passed away and I buried it near the house. A friend of mine and I were going to find good, loving homes for the remaining kittens once they were old enough. (then get the mommy cat spayed). Recently, as I was stopped at a red light, just a few miles from my house, a lady behind me came and told me that she saw three kittens fall from under my vehicle. I turned around and headed back the way I came. And, yes, unfortunately, I did see two of the precious kittens. They were already dead. I looked for the third and was unable to locate it. The last of the five, I fear, was also a part of the tragedy; however, I saw no signs of it.


Please know, this was in no way, shape or form, intentional. The guilt is all-consuming at this point. Please advise. Is there anyway God can forgive me and if so, how do I forgive myself?



Dear Softertears,


Thank you for writing to Beyond Indigo. It is wonderful to hear that there are such kind, compassionate people like you taking care of the stray and homeless animals. Please feel good about all that you do to help so many creatures.


We are so sorry for your shock and horror at discovering the kittens that their mother, no doubt, stashed up under your car somehow. There is absolutely NO way you could have known about that, or any way you could have prevented that. It is a miracle that it hasn't happened more often, with all the pets you care for.


I could tell you many stories about this type of thing happening to pet owners, so don't feel the least bit alone about this happening to you. In fact, a friend of mine ran over her own large dog that was sleeping behind the back tire of her truck. These things happen.


If you can still locate the mother cat, you can at least keep the mother from having more kittens by your generous intention to get her spayed. I would do it soon.


I'm more than sure God will give you some peace about this, as there is nothing to forgive as you did nothing wrong. Ask for inner guidance and continually affirm, "I am at peace, and all happens for a good reason." You might not know or see that reason now, but trust me, it is there! If the cats had been left to themselves in nature, they most likely would not have survived. Mother Nature has a way of making sure only the toughest, and the smartest, are allowed to survive and these methods often look cruel to we humans.


Hopefully, these last few days have helped you to begin to heal. Let us know how things are going for you. We care.


Karin
Karin is a staff writer and editor for Beyond Indigo. She holds her Ph.D. in psychology.

My Dog Drowned
by Karin Baltzell, Ph.D.


Dear Karin,


I lost my dog, Buster, almost two months ago very tragically. I let him go out to go to the bathroom like I had done for 15 years and I walked away for a minute. I looked out the window and noticed he had fallen into my almost frozen pond. It had snowed the night before although the pond wasn't completely frozen over. I ran out there to try and get him out. I felt the ice under my feet cracking. I couldn't reach him. I tried so hard. He kept flapping his paws trying his hardest to get out but he couldn't reach land. The ice kept breaking. I called the neighbors and my husband at work and 911. With all the help and trying it was too late. By the time my husband got home my dog was floating on the top of the water. I cannot deal with this pain. I see it over and over and over again in my head. He was looking at me asking "Why aren't you helping my get out of this cold water?". The image I also see is him seeing me on his death bed knowing I let him drown. Please give me some advice and how to cope with this. Every time I look out the window i see that awful pond. How can i continue to live here and see that image every day. Please help me.



Dear Tracie,


We were so sorry to hear that you had lost your dear pet. It must have been very traumatic for you to not be able to help your loved animal.


There are many things I could try to write to you to hopefully ease your pain, but I think, considering the circumstances, you might still be in some sort of shock, and suffering from post traumatic stress. Your most immediate help could come from a specialist for post traumatic stress disorder. You can find a specialist like this if you call your local hospital and ask for references, or call your local counseling center.


Coping with a death is never easy, and it is especially difficult when you have some sense of responsibility. Rest assured, you could do nothing for your dog. After all these years of letting him out, he had never gone to the pond and gotten into trouble. Perhaps he knew that his time was getting close to leaving you (he was 15 and that is old for a dog) and he chose to make it quick. Death always looks bad to the bystander, but I am told over and over that those deaths are really quite quick, and not as painful or full of panic as they appear.


Perhaps you might look at your dog's passing as a blessing (he died quickly) and a double blessing because the last thing he saw was YOU, and you were HELPING him. I'm sure your dog knew that. Perhaps he was really saying to you, "I'm so sorry I did this, and caused you so much unhappiness."


Do let us know how you come to terms with this. We care.


Karin
Karin is a staff writer and editor for Beyond Indigo. She holds her Ph.D. in psychology.

My Little Jack Russell
by Karin Baltzell, Ph.D.


Dear Karin


My little Jack Russell was killed 5-5-03 and I feel it was my fault as every morning at 5 AM I would let her out with me to run back and forth to my daughter’s, who is 4 houses away. Only this morning she looked directly at me and ran the other way into the busy street. At that time, I hurriedly ran into the house for her leash only to come out the door and see her lying dead in the street. There was not one mark on her but my vet said she was probably hit in the head. I had to call my doctor for mediation and, yet today, I'm still grieving and cannot get past 1) seeing her look directly at me and 2) seeing her white hair blowing in the wind as she lay dead.


Please Help ASAP. Thank You.



Dear Reader: Thank you for your confidence in writing to Beyond Indigo for help. I'm sure this is a very difficult time for you. You have the loss of your little Jack Russell, and the guilt over her death. Our condolences to you.


Those last images of our pet in our mind do seem to linger, which in one way is a nice thing, as it gives us a sense of remembrance for our pet. When your mind tends to linger over the unpleasant images, try to replace those with the happy image you have of your sweet pet as she lay sleeping at your feet, or when she was running between your house and your daughter's house. Make a conscious effort to do so each time the unpleasant or guilty thought comes to your mind. It really works, but as with all efforts, it will take a little time, so be patient with yourself.


Difficult as it may seem to remember now, your dog had her own will and her own thoughts. All the days before the accident, she did the same behaviour. There would be no reason for you to know or expect that she would change that behaviour, and instead, run in the street. Perhaps it was time for your dog to leave you, and she looked at you because she knew that, and was saying "Goodbye. Forgive me. I have to go."


Karin
Karin is a staff writer and editor for Beyond Indigo. She holds her Ph.D. in psychology.

Second Year of Loss
by Karin Baltzell, Ph.D.


Dear Karin,


It is soon the second year after the loss of my cat. She was my baby and my only real friend. The death was awful and I was suicidal and depressed in spite of therapy and the comforting clichés we all tend to use when death intrudes. I know I will not be able to ever have another cat – I was happy with the one I had and my disability limits me (mostly the lack of income and mobility). I write her letters and have filled six journals. I am unable to enjoy life like I used to and am totally stagnant. I've suffered many horrible losses in my 42 years on Earth and don't look forward to facing any more, save, my own. I know I'll lose it on the 2-year date, which is also my dad's birthday. Do you have any advice to help me cope?



Dear Reader,


Of course, we are so sorry for your loss, and your continued grieving. Yes, it is very hard to hear platitudes and clichés when we are looking for someone to totally understand us and say just the "right thing." There is nothing that we could hope for more than some of the following suggestions might be of some consolation or help:


Contact your therapist if you are no longer seeing him/her and have a touch-up appointment during this anniversary time.
Have you joined the online support groups on Beyond Indigo?? Perhaps the Buddy Chat???
Try not to be alone on the anniversary date of the deaths of your kitty and your father. Be gone from your residence, if possible, or invite a friend or neighbor in to be with you.
Talk about your loss to someone that you trust. Yes, you've done that before, but you have suffered so many losses, it might take you an extra special long time to process all the feelings and hurt inside.
Keep journaling. However, you might change the focus of your writing to "What if?" What if I got a new cat, how would I manage that? What if I could find someone to share a pet with (and the cost), say a friend, or a neighbor, or another lonely grieving person? What if I could change the future for myself, what would it look like? Can you see how this can get you to start a new cycle of thinking???
Contact a humane society or social services agency and see if they have therapy pets that can come and visit you. That way, you don't own the pet (and don't have to worry about the loss, yet again).
Consider the possibility of getting a new kitty. Just "consider it." Try on the idea. Live with the thought again. It would seem that what is holding you back from lots of love and comfort is your fear of suffering loss again. Yet, without risking love again, you suffer loss EVERY single day, over and over.


We wish you the best of luck getting through your anniversary, and encourage you to hang on, and you will make it through to the other side of your painful time.


Karin
Karin is a staff writer and editor for Beyond Indigo. She holds her Ph.D. in psychology.

Traumatic Death of a Pet
by Kitty Walker, LMSW-ACP


Dear Kitty,


After having my cat for almost five years, I was horrified and greatly saddened to discover his body on the side of the road! The poor thing was not intact! He looked so bad. Apparently, he had been hit by a car, truck whatever! I loved him so much! He was like a child to me. He was so special, so sweet; and he didn't deserve such a horrible death!


I am having a very hard time coping with his death. I find myself crying several times a day. He was a very, very special friend to me. I miss him so much! I have two other cats. I think they feel the loss too! Cats do go to Heaven don't they? I never want to forget him.


Do you have any suggestions on how I can come to terms with his death? I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you!



Dear Friend:


I was deeply saddened by your recent letter. The death of a pet at any time, under any circumstances, is difficult enough for those of us with deep attachments to them. However, seeing your sweet one's disfigured body following a lethal hit on the road has to be one of the all-time terrible experiences.


One of the things you will unfortunately be coping with is the image of his body when you came upon it. Although it is a gruesome image, and not the way your cat looked in life, it is better if you don't try to fight it. Your mind, in an attempt to deal with the trauma, will go back to it repeatedly. So that this reliving of it is less traumatic for you, try to pair the image with the thought: "This is not (your cat's name), just his shell. His spirit had already left before he looked this way."


In writing your letter to me, you are helping yourself in the grieving process. I often recommend that people write a memorial tribute to the animal that has died, describing his or her personality, quirks, strong points, and what the relationship between human and pet was like. This can be something you do privately for yourself, or, if you wish, you can post a memorial here at Beyond Indigo.


In addition to writing a tribute, you can also make a special scrapbook. Going through photographs, while painful at first, can be a way of reminding you that he was a beautiful creature, full of life and spirit.


You asked, "Cats do go to Heaven don't they?"


Although I am not anywhere close to an ultimate authority on this, my belief is that Heaven would not be Heaven without our beloved creatures welcoming us to love and play for all eternity.


I'll keep you in my heart,


Kitty
Ask Kitty is a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss issues which humans encounter when their pets die. She has worked in this area for a number of years, providing counseling to people at this special time of need. She also provides consultation and education to employees of veterinary clinics in her area.

When Is the Right Time to Replace a Pet?
by Kitty Walker, LMSW-ACP


Dear Kitty,


Hi, my name is Shawn. I'm 14 and from New Jersey. My dog, Holly, just recently died on July 7th and it was the only companion, friend, family member that I have ever truly loved with all my heart. She had a very rare blood disease and she got sick one morning, turned all yellow, and then died the next morning.


I didn't even have time to say goodbye. She was only 5. She was a great dog. She didn't have a mean bone in her body. She never growled or got angry with anyone. She always loved and knew when I was feeling bad; she would make me feel a lot better. I thought I wanted another dog, but I didn't want to replace Holly, and to my surprise, my parents got a new 9-week-old puppy. It's only been in this house for three days but I hate it so much! It is the meanest dog I have ever met. It growls and bites and attacks and never cuddles (Holly always cuddled). I just don't want it in my house any longer and if it doesn't leave then I am. I truly hate that dog. I would sell my soul to get Holly back.


I really wish that was possible, but it's not, and I can't live without her. Is this feeling going to be with me the rest of my life? Am I ever going to be able to handle this? And what do I do about the puppy?


Shawn



Dear Shawn,


Please accept my condolences for the loss of your Holly. Sounds like she was your canine soul mate, a loss that you will carry with you for all time. It is really awful that she got so suddenly sick, then died with almost no warning. She was a gentle spirit and I can tell that you miss her more than words can say.


You are wiser than your parents in knowing there is no replacement for Holly. I fully believe that they were trying to do their best in getting the new puppy, but as you have stated, the comparison of the new one is jarring. If you had never had a girl like Holly, then perhaps the new one would have had a chance to win you over. I pray that by the time you read this, things have settled down and you are open to receiving a very different dog. I know and you know that you will not love this dog the same way that you did your Holly, however, I hope that you will give the new little one a chance.


I hurt for you and your loss. I also can tell that you have talent in writing. I hope that you will consider writing a tribute to Holly. It can be some thoughts and feelings and memories to show how much you loved her. You can keep it to yourself or post it on our website here at beyond Indigo.


This is a way you can say goodbye to her, since you did not have a chance to when she was alive.


Feel free to write to me anytime about your feelings. Holly was a precious darling, and I know that you miss her enormously.


My Best,


Kitty
Ask Kitty is a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss issues which humans encounter when their pets die. She has worked in this area for a number of years, providing counseling to people at this special time of need. She also provides consultation and education to employees of veterinary clinics in her area.

When Will Grief End?
by Kitty Walker, LMSW-ACP


On January 1, 2001, I had to take my best friend of 15+ years for the last ride of her precious life. Making the decision to put her to sleep was the HARDEST thing I've ever had to do. I am a paramedic firefighter and I'm around death and dying all the time. But this has affected me in such a way I NEVER thought possible.


I know it was the right thing to do because she had gotten so much worse in the past 2 weeks, but God it hurts. Cee Jae was my pet cocker spaniel and in my life more than anyone else except for immediate family. When the decision was made, my 2-year-old son bent down and gave her a kiss. I thought I was gonna die. We left, and all the way to the hospital, I balled like a little kid. I'm still crying, trying to type. Please tell me it will get better. Cee Jae is buried in our – HER – back yard. I talk to her every day, but I'm hurting so much. Do you have any suggestions? Please help.


Lost and Lonely



Dear Lost and Lonely,


Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of Cee Jae. No matter how much death you have been around in your profession, nothing could prepare you for the heartbreak of losing your precious best friend of 15 years. She was, as you said, a treasured member of your family. You asked me if it gets better, and I take that to mean you want to know if the pain of grieving lessens its grip over time. I can reassure you that it almost always does, even though at its most intense, it seems like you will hurt that much forever. Because we take them into our hearts so deeply, the pain of mourning a beloved animal can be devastating.


You said that you talk to her every day, and I take it that brings you comfort. Other things that might bring you comfort, when you are ready, is to talk with others about what a great dog she was, sharing memories about her exploits and tender moments. In addition, we have a new memorial area at Beyond Indigo where you can post an obituary or life story about Cee Jay if you wish.


May your heart find healing and be comforted by memories of the precious time you had together.


My Best to You,


Kitty
Ask Kitty is a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss issues which humans encounter when their pets die. She has worked in this area for a number of years, providing counseling to people at this special time of need. She also provides consultation and education to employees of veterinary clinics in her area.

Who Gets Custody of the Pets?
by Kitty Walker, LMSW-ACP


Dear Kitty,


My boyfriend and I have two pugs, Angus and Ryker. We adopted them jointly 2 years ago. Recently, my boyfriend and I have not been getting along. I know we won't be staying together much longer. I know there is a good chance that I will never see my Angus or Ryker again. I just don't know how to deal with this, how to say goodbye to my babies, how to go on each day without pouring their food or taking them for walks. How do I leave them? Honestly, I know they will be loved, and in good caring hands, but how do I accept that those hands won't be mine?


Shari



Dear Shari,


I am very sorry that things are not working out in your relationship, and I hate that it means you will have to say goodbye to the dogs you own jointly.


I guess that first I want to ask if it really has to be that way. I have known couples in a similar circumstance who made allowances for both to continue to see the animals, despite one having "primary custody." Visitation, on a periodic basis, can be a very meaningful endeavor for both human and animal.


If, for whatever reason, that is not possible, you will definitely be in for a grieving process. I am glad that you know that they will be "in good caring hands," as that could otherwise be a source of great anxiety and pain.


I recommend that you have a special time set aside just to say goodbye to them. Perhaps it can be the last thing you do before leaving the household. Engage both of them in some kind of routine activity that you have enjoyed together, such as a walk around the block or a game of fetch. If you have a habit of being vocal with them, you can tell each of them what they have meant to you, and how sad you are to have to leave them.


After you have done the physical leaving, try to set up some time to talk to someone who understands your bond to them. Take every opportunity to express your feelings of loss, verbally and in writing. The stages of grieving: shock, anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance don't occur in the same order or same intensity with everyone, but the acceptance stage is usually after all the others. In other words, it could take a while to reach.


Be gentle with yourself and allow your grieving to unfold.


My Best,


Kitty
Ask Kitty is a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss issues which humans encounter when their pets die. She has worked in this area for a number of years, providing counseling to people at this special time of need. She also provides consultation and education to employees of veterinary clinics in her area.

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