Guest Post by Kamira Gayle, Author & Creator of Impurrfectlife.com –A blog about finding joy, life inspiration and comfort after pet loss.
As a pet parent living through the grieving process and coming to terms with a new reality, it is a challenge day to day. Your usual routine is now forever altered and you find yourself wrestling with a mix of emotions. One feeling in particular that weighs heavily on your heart and soul is that dirty little five letter word we all dread to say out loud. What am I talking about? Guilt.
Despite giving our furry friends the best life we possibly could and the most love we could muster, we feel like we ultimately failed and let them down. Why? Because they are no longer here with us happy and healthy. You ask yourself questions like, “Why didn’t I get a second opinion?” or “I thought I had more time?” or “What if I…?”
STOP! Please stop putting yourself through the wringer. Rehashing the “what ifs” and “I should haves” will do nothing to help you heal, but rather keep you stagnate in your healing process. Moreover, this behaviour will not bring Fluffy back. I’m sorry to say.
What I can say is the best trait of our furry family members is they always epitomised unconditional love for us each and every day. They would want that for us even after they have long passed away and transitioned out of this world. This includes wanting us to not only to continue to feel loved, but also feel happy, live our best lives and not just exist. We as pet parents, loved them with all our heart and they returned the favour. Do yourself a favour and try and make an attempt to not beat yourself up over the loss of your pet. Love yourself enough to know you did the best you could, with the knowledge you had, with what you were given at that time.
5 Tips for Letting Go of Guilt After Pet Loss
So you may be asking “So, how do I begin to deal with all this guilt?” I wrote about my personal experience in a post called Dealing with Guilt after Pet Loss however I can summarise the top 5 ways to letting go of the guilt below.
1) Remember your intent.
From the start, as a pet parent, you recall the day you picked up Fluffy from the shelter or off the street. You promised yourself and your furry friend you would give them the best life ever; better than what they had when you found them. Your priority was to give them a good quality of life and not a life where they just exist. How lucky were they! You potentially saved them from being sent to a kill shelter or living a life in the street struggling to survive. Fluffy had a gift in you as being their pet parent!
2) Realise that holding onto guilt prevents healing.
Our minds are very powerful. The mind body connection is real. What you fill your mind with ultimately manifests itself in the physical. So rehashing Fluffy’s last days at the vet will do nothing to promote your healing and progress. Holding on to those feelings will keep you stagnate.
3) Understand everything happens for a reason
As much as we’d like to have the power to make things happen the way we see fit every time; that is just not our reality. The reality is life happens. Change is evident; even if it means suffering losses of loved ones. Life is a journey and everyone’s script is different. We experience the highs and lows of life for a reason. This includes Fluffy too. You were destined to be Fluffy’s pet parent for a reason. Your pet’s purpose was to show and give you love as well as share a part of your life journey. Try to accept this is part of your life script.
4) Accept all of us have a pre-fixed “expiration” date
As much as our hearts fight our practical mind, the reality is our furry family members will not live to be 75 years old on average. It’s just not how they are built. We all, pets and people, have a predetermined set time here on Earth. None of us know when our number will be up, but we know we are not immortal. Come to accept that your pet’s time came and they lived their best life up until the very last moment. You as a pet parent helped give them that gift.
5) It’s Decision Time
Today is the day to make a choice. You can remain in the same state; stagnate and burdened with guilt after pet loss. Or you can begin the journey to release that burden off your back and start to heal. You are not alone. Petrest does a great job in helping pet parents honour their pets in a dignified manner. Do the same for yourself. Do you think Fluffy would want you to continue to hang your head in shame and carry the burden of guilt? No way! Choose to honour the memory of your pet by first forgiving yourself. Then, give yourself permission to celebrate their entire life, and not solely harp on their last moments alive. The choice is up to you when to decide you are ready to release the guilt and move in a forward direction.
Hopefully the choice you make is made sooner than later because we know our furry friends would only want to see us smiling again as soon as possible. Remember, moving forward does not mean forgetting their memory or what was shared, it means taking control of those emotions and choosing to actively find joy once again.
Do you like Kamira’s post? Check out more insight from her personal journey to finding normalcy after pet loss on her blog Impurrfectlife.