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Posts: 2
I lost my baby boy Harry yesterday and I can't feel anything but this overwhelming sense of guilt. Harry was a healthy 6 year old cat until two days ago when he came out from under my bed, and his back two legs were dragging behind him.

Panicked, I rushed him to the vet and the next 48 hours were a whirlwind of pain and anxiety. The vet did over a thousand dollars worth of tests and narrow it down to either being a clot, or a herniated disc. After medicine and monitoring him (i slept with him on the floor for two nights and cuddled him so he was content) I eventually had to take him to an animal hospital in Midtown Manhattan. After evaluating him and come back to me I was told it was either a disc issue or cancer, but they needed to do an MRI and if they did an MRI it would have to be surgery right away. The total would have been another $6000 which would have wiped my bank account out completely.. I called my parents and my boyfriend and they all kept telling me the same thing..

I didnt want him to be in pain and cancer could mean radiation and disc surgery would mean weeks of helping empty his bladder himself and constant care which I cant do because of my job..

I promised him I would take care of him always.. and I can't stop feeling this crushing guilt that I couldnt take care of him.. I held him in my arms as I said goodbye and everytime I close my eyes hes all I see.

Im scared I will never be able to forgive myself.. Im scared this pain and guilt will be with me forever, but if it is, I honestly feel like I deserve it. I don't feel like I deserve to be happy again..


Posts: 13
I am so sorry for your loss.  Although guilt is a normal part of grieving, it can feel so overwhelming and raw.  

I had to say goodbye to my dog and best friend a little over a month ago.  Like you, it was all very sudden.  I hope that my story can help you feel a bit less guilty because there are similarities in our situation...My dog collapsed one night with NO warning.  Long story short, after x-rays, an ultrasound, and many other very expensive tests, we were told that she had a liver tumor, that it could one of a number of different cancers, it could be benign and localized, or it could have metastasized to/from other organs.  They couldn't tell without surgery, but she was so ill that there was a very good chance that she wouldn't make it out of surgery.  We spent so much money trying to get to the heart of what was happening because we would have done anything to save her, and in the end we still don't know for sure what she had, she suffered greatly during those two days of testing, and the end result would have been the same regardless of the path we would have taken.  

If I had to do it all over again I would never put her through all of that.  But I have the gift of hindsight, right?  I realize now that she was in great pain, she was frightened, and if we had gotten to the point of doing surgery, what if she hadn't survived it?  What if she had died alone, on that surgical table?  How great would the guilt be then?!  What if she had survived surgery, but then ended up dying from the cancer a few weeks/months later, in even greater pain because she was trying to mend from the surgery?  So many options, and almost none of them good.  The reality is that so often we don't have any idea that our pets are ailing until it is too late.  They are very good at hiding pain.  Once it gets to the point of visible suffering, they are often too sick to be helped.  If we are lucky surgery can help them, but more often we just prolong their suffering in the hopes of saving them.

It's so easy to blame ourselves and think "what if"?  But coming from the other side of things, in our case we made Biscuit wait while we exhausted almost every option, and instead of allowing her a peaceful exit from this world, her last two days were spent in pain and confusion.  The reality is that no matter what we would have done, the guilt would still be there.  There is just no way around it.  

Go easy on yourself.  Be thankful for those 6 years.  I can say that now with a little bit of time and reflection, but I was exactly in your place a month ago.  It's so devastating.  Try to focus on the love you shared with Harry.

Posts: 2
Thank you so much for sharing your story and words of kindness. It's honestly relieves a little bit of the pain Ive been feeling to know someone else has felt exactly what Im feeling now and come out on the other side. <3 
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