Ive been reading a wonderful book about pet grief called "cold noses at the pearly gates". Its been very healing for me and there is a passage about guilt which I'm posting here in the hope that it helps some of you. (((hugs)))
I had to put my best friend down. I don’t know if I did the right thing. Should I have waited longer? Does my pet understand? I feel so guilty, what canI I do?
This concern is similar to the one that prompted the question above in that it epitomizes the proverbial “what if” scenario. While every situation is different, my response is always the same. I apply the same response not because I am lazy and do not want to address the individual situation, but rather because I am addressing the guilt and not the factors that lead up to it. In any event, these questions are hard to answer.
I encourage you to remember how things were at that moment in time when you bore the responsibility of making that big decision for your family pet. Only you can know if it was the right and timely thing to do. My advice to you is to simply trust the moment. By that I mean, that you should not second-guess now, the decision that you made then. Second-guessing will only lead to a feeling of insecurity, which will eventually manifest itself as guilt. It is imperative to trust that when you were forced to make that undesirable, big decision, you did so from a position of love. You didn’t want to do it. It horrified you to have to decide. Nevertheless, you stepped up and assumed your responsibility. You selflessly decided that your best friend was suffering, that there was nothing you or anyone else could do about it, except make that decision. Now, long after the fact, divorced from the emotion and pressure of the moment, you are allowing yourself to dissect every thought and circumstance. Now, with the luxury of time, you are starting to re-think the facts and question yourself, playing the “what if” game. Today, it isn’t as clear as it was then. You really don’t know if you did the right thing.
Take heart, it is human nature to doubt. We are imperfect and fickle creatures. But that does not make it right to pull a load of guilt upon ourselves, and that does not change the reality of the moment when you had to make that big decision. Don’t let your feelings of grief give birth to guilt. Remember the moment. Remember, you wanted nothing more than to help the one you so dearly loved. You would have done anything, paid any amount, performed any feat to prolong their life, but it was just not to be. The doctor’s prognosis was grim. There would be much suffering and pain. The recommendation was to bring them relief, to help them pass on. Under extreme duress and emotional strain, through tears of love, you weighed all the facts, reached down deep inside, put aside your own selfish desire to have your pet hang on, and did what you thought best for them. At that moment, your love made the selfless decision that rationale and logic now question. There was no selfishness then, but rather a somber consideration of the facts, and a decision to do something that you really did not want to do. But you did it, because someone needed for you to be strong for them. You put self aside and found strength you did not know you had. Don’t let go of that moment. Hold on to it. Trust it. Trust that you were right and that you did what was needed. Trust that your love ruled over your selfishness and know that where your love prevailed, there is no room for guilt or doubt. Grief and sadness are important validations of your love, but do not cheat that process with doubt and guilt. It has no place.
(From the book "Cold noses at the pearly gates" by Gary Kurtz- not affiliated in any way, just thought this passage might help some people)