By Coleen Elllis
From euthanasia to missed illness diagnosis, being a loving pet parent comes with so many elements that can be causes for guilt. While it hurts my heart to hear this plague a broken-hearted pet lover when their pet dies, I also know that it has to be a part of the grieving process. Until one reaches a day when the guilt can be managed and peace overcomes a grieving heart to know that they did the best they could with the information they had.
However, during the time where the guilt is the most egregious, as a companion I want to give you permission to own the guilt and to have the guilt. It’s tough for a caring friend to not want to jump in and take the guilt away, but we also have to know this is an emotion and feeling we need to not take away.
For the grieving heart, own the emotion. Have the emotion and use it to ask your heart the pertinent questions you need to ask your own heart. But, also, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat any good friend who would come to you with the same kind of broken heart. For some reason we find it easier to be kinder to others than to be to our own self. But, be kind to yourself. Give yourself the permission to feel guilty, to question yourself, to be angry, to cry, and to scream. Give yourself permission to just “be” and not “do” anything.
Own the guilt, and when the time comes that you are ready to heal and find hope for your heart, you’ll see the situation a bit different. You’ll allow your heart the peace needed to know you did the best you could at that time. You did the best for your beloved pet.
But don’t rush it. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time and space for the grief journey in the way you need to take it.