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Posts: 1,433



It's a word that can invoke in us the deepest, most terrible feelings of loss, horror, anger, and helplessness.  Why did I do what I did?  Why couldn't I have done more?  Did I kill my beloved pet?  Did I not do enough?  Did I do too much?  Did I put him/her down too soon?  Did I wait too long?  If only I had closed the gate.  If only I had noticed sooner.  If only I had waited longer.  If only I had more money.  If only I had rushed to the vet sooner.  If only I had known more at the time.  If only I had listened to my gut feelings.  If only I had gone to a better vet.

And we beat ourselves up for all these questions and "if-onlys".  Why do we do this?  Because we loved our pets. Because we wish we could have done more, or wish we had not done what we did.

But we cannot bring them back.  We cannot change what we did or did not do.

What we can do is stop hurting ourselves over the guilt.  Each of us, in our own way, did what we thought was right at the time, using what we knew and felt.  Each of us tried to do the best we could, and did it with the intention of love.

We are human beings, with frailties and faults.  We don't know everything.  We make mistakes.  But we make them with the best of intentions.

To hurt ourselves with the terrible additional pain of guilt is to do disservice to the love we felt for our pets. With very, very few exceptions, we did the best we knew to do at the time. Even if we feel that we didn't do what we should have, or did what we should not have, we have learned, and everyone will benefit from that knowledge now.

Our beloved pets are gone, and out of pain. We still torture ourselves with the pain of guilt and doubt. It's human to do that, too, but are we being fair to ourselves?

We loved, deeply, and that says that we have a deep capacity for love that many do not. We are basically good people. Should we not recognize that goodness, instead of inflicting pain on ourselves for what we could, or should, or should not have done?

We took in a beloved creature, and gave him or her everything we could. We petted, we walked, we fed, we changed litterboxes, we played, we stroked, we sat sleepless on difficult nights. We cared, and did everything we knew to do at the time. And we looked in their eyes, and knew they understood that we loved them, and knew that they loved us.

If we didn't know enough, or made an innocent mistake, do we believe that they did not understand, and love and forgive us in spite of it? I believe they did, and that they do.

We need to forgive ourselves. If we can, we can increase our knowledge, reach out to help others, and use our pain to make things better for our pets, for others' pets, and for those animals out there who are alone and lost. We can make a difference. But only if we quit hating ourselves, blaming ourselves, for being human.

Let the guilt go. Know that your furbabies don't blame you; they understand, because they know your heart. Let yourself forgive yourself, and allow all the love you have to be there for another. There are so many who need it.

Learn, and then teach. Keep learning, and don't stop. Every pebble of knowledge and caring you send out will ripple throughout the world, and keep growing. And perhaps in time, every animal will be loved, and well-cared for, and there will be a great golden age for the animals, and for those of us who love them.

Ginger-lyn Summer
September 10, 1999


Posts: 6
I read this right after I posted something today. This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Thank you for these words.

Posts: 4
Thank you for posting this

Posts: 10
Thank you for the post. Every little bit helps everyone heal.

Posts: 10
I really needed to read this.

Posts: 4
I needed this. Thank you

Posts: 25
This what I learned recently by talking with my about everything our beloved faced over the 4 months. First, I’m now grateful that my cat who was euthanized back in December went out the way he did. He lived a happy and healthy life and had congestive heart failure. Therefore, he lived as long as he could and never had to endure a slow decline and pain.

When we euthanized his brother 4 months lately, I said I would do everything differently as it was roads of and up and down for him over the 4 months. It is easy to look at the totality of the 4 months and chose the perfect time to euthanize him. Since, I can’t see the future, this was impossible. Now when, I think back to various moments over the last four months, I would not have changed a thing. At each stage it was the correct decision at the time, and his quality of life would and did return. This included a major surgery and recovery. But he did recover and looked like he had a good life ahead of him. Each time he was hit with various health issues that could be treated and were not interconnected. However, it was just age and eventually there were no more corners to turn so we made the right decision to euthanized him.

Since, no one here as the ability of hindsight and repeat the past, we would continue to make the same decisions based upon the knowledge and emotional state we were in at the time. It was the right decision at the time. We are only humans.

Posts: 111
Yes indeed hindsight is just an illusion because we cannot repeat the past. That seems easy enough to understand, but emotionally very hard to accept when it comes to the loss of our fur babies.

Posts: 25
It is easy for me to write that I make the same decisions without the knowledge of hindsight.  I know this to be true, but there are days in which I question everything.  It is because I miss them so dearly and would give anything to get them back, healthy, that I fluctuate between feeling of peace for the life they live to guilt.

Posts: 101
How beautiful your words, right now I am feeling devastated, guilty, heartbroken and angry.  I made a huge mistake and I lost my baby because of it.  My poor little kittie.  I will continue to read your words and hope in time I can heal.  Thank you.

Posts: 101
I just read your words again, thank you thank you.  Makes me feel understood.
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