Coping with End of Life Issues for Your Pet

Facing Heart Wrenching Choices and Making Heartbreaking Decisions

Being Faithful to Your Most Faithful Companion

The time has come.

What do you do?
What do you need to consider?
Is there a plan to get you through the process?
Who can you talk to?
How do you know when it’s  truly the “time”?

Your animal companion is your most loyal and faithful friend.
The one who truly doesn’t care what you do, or how you look.
Doesn’t care if you have a successful career, or a blue collar job.
They will be there for you when you have no job at all.
When you are happy, they will play with you, walk with you, run with you.
When you are sad, they will be there for you, sit with you, sleep with you.
They will continue to love you.  Unconditionally. 24/7.
They can eat the same food every day of the week and not complain.
They can play with their same favorite toy, for the life of the toy (and their own),
They will never judge you, insult you or hurt your feelings.
Never asking or wanting more than your love.

They bring joy and love to your world…every day.  Unconditionally.
You are the best thing that has ever happened to them.
They will miss you…even when you just go out to get the mail.
They will watch and wait and be happy that you’ve returned from your journey.
A joyful I love you is always the way you are greeted.

And then, change happens.
Sometimes due to age; sometimes health, sometimes both.
And this little (or big) 4 legged family member is clinging to some quality of life.
Trying to hold on to life, just to be there with you.
They rely on you like never before…to help them through this transition.
To care for them, to be there with them.
To offer them comfort and to honor the bond between you.
Ultimately, they will rely upon you to let them move on.
Helping them pass from this life with you, with dignity and in peace.

Sadly, your heart breaks and you are beyond and without words.
It has become clear that the time has come.
You must become their advocate, their nurse and guardian.
You are the one to decide to let go so that they can move on.

It is a decision that comes with a heavy heart, with immeasurable despair.
You come face to face with your own feelings of loss.
You struggle with the knowledge that your home will feel empty without them.
How do you let go?

The challenge you face is to put your own emotions aside.
Directing your thinking to what is truly best, what is kindest in reaching a decision that no one wants to be faced with.

After much inner reflection, despair, and conflicted feelings, your decision is finally, and painfully made.
In your heart you know that it is the right one.
You question that decision….as you should.
It is a huge responsibility…it is a painful decision…it is overwhelming.

And with the decision made, you move into the emotional process of grief.

Do you feel that your friends and/or family don’t seem to understand?
Do they minimize your emotions and heartbreak?
Do they get frustrated with you for your grief and say inappropriate things?
They may mean well, but it doesn’t help to hear that:

Animals don’t live that long.
He/she had a great life and a great home.
You knew this would happen.
You can’t get too attached because this is inevitable.
That’s why “I” don’t have one.
You can always get another one.

No you CANNOT just get another one.
Maybe you will…someday…but that’s not the issue.
It goes well beyond the definition of difficult.
You are crying, you are lonely.
The hurt is monumental.
You feel an immense sense of loss.
The emptiness of their absence is deafening.

Please know that there is support and empathy for you.
During this process of transition, of loss and acceptance.

I have had the personal experience of losing my best friend(s).
I have gone through loss many times.
Each time feels like the first and although there have been multiple times…it doesn’t get easier…any less painful.

Having support during the process is extremely helpful.
You need to find a way to make peace within yourself.
Your grief is valid and should never be minimized…by anyone…including yourself.
We’re talking about the loss of a family member.
You are mourning the loss of your best friend.

Please contact me if you feel that I can be of help.
Anna E. Pepper, M.A.