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EdW

Site Owner
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Posts: 1,443
 #1 

Dealing with the Guilt.

Guilt.  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

rottiesrule

Registered:
Posts: 596
 #2 
This is so true. Thank you for posting this Ed. Guilt is a useless emotion that is really anger turned inward. There is no room for "woulda, shoulda, coulda".

I also felt very guilty because I knew I was keeping Bubba going for me, not him. He gave me the signs he was ready, but I wasn't. So we continued long past the point when I should have been a whole lot less selfish. But he knew I adored him. He knew I wasn't ready, and I hurt thinking about loosing him. Heaven knows I told him often enough. When the time came, it came as an emergency instead of the calm, peaceful way I saw in my mind's eye. I felt the worst guilt for that. But I don't want my memories of Bubba to be tinged with negative feelings. I want to remember the big, proud Rottweiler who everyone joked about being as big as a small steer. We took a picture one year with Santa at the mall, and his comment was "oh, now I have to sit with cattle!" Guilt has no place in my memories of Bubba.

We do what we think is best at the time. That's all we have. To do the best we can. So don't beat yourself up over decisions made. If it's something that can be corrected, pay it forward to another fur child. Be kind to yourself. Your baby would expect that from you.
tonilit

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Posts: 331
 #3 
How beautiful.....Thank You
River

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Posts: 262
 #4 
Ed, thank you for the post. I'll print it out and read it over any time guilt rears its ugly head.
gutsman

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Posts: 4
 #5 
very inspiring and touching thank you for these valuable words
JanH

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Posts: 555
 #6 

 Such wise and true words, thank you for posting them, I think we do need to remind ourselves sometimes that almost without exception, we have always acted for the very best reasons.

cwigg99723

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Posts: 628
 #7 
Thanks so much for posting these very wise and necessary words of advise.
 
I too have suffered tremendous guilt over the loss of Bonnie.  I think that I sent to her death by taking her to the vet that day.  However, as the days pass by, I know that i did the right thing. 

But why did it have to happen.  Well, my brain knows that all living things are not meant to be here forever.  But my heart thinks that Bonnie should have been with us longer.  But, then my brain tells me that we had her for 13 wonderful years and we were blessed by her love and companionship.  It is like my brain and my heart are in battle to win over this guilt issue.  
 
If my heart did not love Bonnie(and still does and always will) I would not be having this guilt.  So, I think my heart will win this tug of war over guilt.
 
It is the price we pay for loving our pets and I would not change that for anything.   
LukesDad

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Posts: 564
 #8 
Thanks for posting this.  Guilt is still with me.....maybe always will be.  "If only....."  If only I had taken notice of Lil's water getting cloudy earlier, I may have taken her to the vet and caught her cancer early....then treatment might've been effective and given me more time with her and Luke.  If only that had happened, Luke wouldn't have stopped eating when we found out that Lil was going to die soon, and got so ill after a week and a half of starving himself that he just begged me to relieve him of his pain!  If only I had known to ask the vet to sedate Luke before she administered the death serum, he might have gone more peacefully.  I still can't get the picture of him crying out just before he died out of my head!!  If only I had Sharon drive to the vet while we were taking Lil to be euthanized, I could've sat with her and held her during the drive, and told her that everything was going to be OK!

I just can't stop thinking that I could've done all of this so much better....so much less painfully for all involved!  Someone please tell me how to turn back time so I can try this again.  I just can't hardly imagine how much more I could've screwed this all up.

Tomorrow, Luke will be gone 10 weeks, and Lil, 7 weeks.  Lately, I have been having a hard time remembering what it was like to have my babies around....I hate this feeling!  And, I hate these days that the feeling of emptiness comes back as if it were yesterday.  I desperately need some more signs from my pups!  LukeAndLilsDad 
Berta

Registered:
Posts: 541
 #9 

Thank you so very much for this post, just when I seem to need it the most. I have been really beating myself up lately and feeling so horribly guilty the past few days. This post is just what I need tonight and I am grateful for the soothing words to my aching heart.

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