Sometimes these end of life decisions come in a flash, but at other times, we may be caring for a terminally ill or geriatric pet for some time. This will often involve making significant changes to our daily routines as we provide our pets with special care. Living with the knowledge that our time with our pet is limited can be difficult, and lead to anxiety, and we may hope for a ‘natural death’ to take the ultimate decision from our hands.
Faced with this situation many pet owners experience what is called anticipatory grief. This is grief that we experience before we lose our pet. It consists of different emotions such as fear and guilt, and we may be frustrated about a lack of information. Amidst all of this we can find our anxiety over the anticipated death beginning to overwhelm us and this can take away from the precious time we have left with our pets.
How can we deal with anticipatory grief? How can we help our pets be prepared for this stage of life? One way we can do this is to ask ourselves the following questions:
HOW DO I ENVISION THE LAST FEW MOMENTS OF MY PET'S LIFE?
Where do I want it to take place?
Who should be present?
Is there anything I don’t want to happen?
HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT EUTHANASIA?
Do I understand the process?
Do I have questions I need to ask my vet?
WHAT CAN I DO RIGHT NOW SO THAT 6 MONTHS FROM NOW, I WILL LOOK BACK AT THIS TIME AND THINK “THIS WAS THE PERFECT PASSING” AND “I HAVE NO REGRETS?”
Are there any “bucket list” items I want to experience with my pet?
What can I do to make my pet feel extra special?
Facing life without our pets is extremely difficult for all of us. Taking time to think ahead using the above questions can help you when faced with your pet’s death. Planning in advance can assist in relieving your anxiety and give you the space to focus on giving your pet the compassionate care he needs. Knowing you’ve been able to make your pet’s last days extra special may, in time, ease your grieving heart.
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING ANTICIPATORY GRIEF OR FIND IT DIFFICULT TO ANSWER THE ABOVE QUESTIONS, A CONSULTATION WITH ONE OF OUR VETS OR GRIEF COUNSELLORS MAY BE BENEFICIAL.
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