When a pet dies, we all usually feel grief to a certain extent. Some owners will only feel grief for a day or so. At the other end of the scale, some may experience it for a number of months. Worryingly, some people continue to experience grief from the loss of their pet for years, although hopefully at a low and mainly acceptable level.
The way a pet dies has a large effect on grief. Often, the
grief experienced when a pet dies suddenly is greater than when the death has
been anticipated for a while.
Where the greatest difference lies in my area of work is that the owners have to make the decision for their pet to die. This doesn’t often happen with the death of a relation, or human-friend. Having to make the decision can add a whole new and painful layer of hurt to a pet owner’s experience – which is often accompanied by feelings of guilt and unsureness.
This can lead to a risk owners will leave it too late (for their pet). Many will try to get their vet to make the decision for them.
There are several theories of how grieving works – you may have heard of some of them. But I am not a psychologist, or a trained counsellor, so the only thing I can do is tell you about my experiences with my own clients’ grief:-
The idea for this blog entry came from an observation my
partner made last night.
We were both driving to Sheffield, and I took the opportunity to take the ashes of a lovely Labrador called Molly (whom I helped with her end of life a week or so ago) back to her home.
My partner waited in the car whilst I returned Molly’s urn to Alex and her two children.
Back in the car, I told my partner how well Alex had seemed. She was able to talk about Molly freely. Alex talked again about how Molly was their first pet, and how Alex still got occasional waves of upset – often when least expected. She said the blue urn was perfect – blue is a favourite colour.
I then realised that all the clients I have returned ashes to have been in a pretty ‘good place’. Yes they still experience tears and upset. They miss their pets hugely. But they seem to have their grief under their own control, rather than the other way round.
I told my partner this, and she said,
Perhaps the way you do your euthanasia visits has an effect on their state of mind. Maybe you help them in some way.
As I have already said, I’m not a trained counsellor – I just said,
Maybe you’re right. I have no idea…
But then this morning I got an email. It was a client sending me a testimonial for my website. Some clients put reviews on Google, others email me directly.
This is what she wrote:
Our German Shepherd cross, Xena was such a big part of our lives for sixteen years.
When her health deteriorated we had to make that awful decision about ending her suffering.
I found Quietusvet on the internet. It was difficult when that moment came to make the phone call but I knew ‘the time was right’.
Once our decision was made, we just needed the process to take place as soon as possible.
Paul came out the very next day. He was very compassionate, caring and patient. He talked us through the whole process and gave us all the time we needed.
Xena’s end to life was pain free and peaceful. It was a comfort knowing that her life ended calmly, at home in her own bed. Many thanks to Paul for all his care and help in reducing the distress of Xena’s end to life.
I emailed back to say thanks, and she wrote back this short note which instantly confirmed my decision to set up Quietus Vet pet euthanasia at home.
It’s all very true Paul.
Xena’s end to life could have put us off ever having another pet but because of you that isn’t the case.
We’ve resisted so far but I’m getting tempted and am about to enquire about a rescue dog.
I can’t be sure (and this may be an outrageous claim), but it does seem that Quietus Vet can help you get through all those difficult feelings you may experience after the loss of your loved pet.
This was something I didn’t consider when I first started to concentrate on home euthanasia earlier this year. My priority was the dog and cats’ welfare. Next priority was their owner/parent’s wishes to have it done at home in as calm and gentle way as possible. A “natural euthanasia” for their pet as one of my clients put it.
What I am now beginning to realise is that by performing it all properly and making it as good as it can be, pet owners / parents also benefit in the weeks and months afterwards too.
Paul Stevens – Quietus Vet – Veterinary Surgeon.