After making the difficult decision to let your pet go, one of the emotions some people can feel is guilt about the decision you have had to make. There is no right or wrong way to feel following an experience or decision like this one, and some people may feel guilt, whereas some people may not. Each person’s emotional responses will be different.
Euthanasia of a loved pet is unique, in that you can also struggle with the responsibility of having to make the decision about whether to euthanise and when. This can lead to a feeling of guilt about the decision you have made and may mean that you don’t feel you are fully able to grieve the loss of your pet.
Ways of Coping with Guilt
The decision to euthanise your pet is, in most cases, a very difficult decision. If you feel guilt over your decision to let your pet go, then there are some strategies you can use to help you cope with it.
It’s important to avoid thinking that involves words such as “should”, “could have”, or “what if”. These types of unhelpful thoughts can snowball and become a habit. If these thoughts do arrive, you can notice them without accepting them, or allowing them the chance to snowball.
We all have unhelpful thoughts like these at times, but you can choose to not give them more attention or power than they deserve. Think about the thoughts and feelings you’ve had in the past that you chose not to act on. You can choose to do that here too.
Remember that you made the decision that felt the best for your pet. At the time, there were no ‘perfect’ options, and you did the best you could with a difficult situation.
This educational series is part of a Client Support Program proudly delivered in partnership with Sunset Veterinary Care.
For more information on veterinary palliative care visit www.sunsetvets.com.au.
UQ Psychology Clinic
Dr Leander Mitchell DPsych (ClinNeuro&ClinPsy), PhD, MAPS
CRICOS PROVIDER NUMBER 00025B