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Euthanasia and Pet Loss: How to Cope When You Must Make This Painful Choice

Many people understand the implications of pet loss when their pet has died of disease or natural causes. However, the loss can be even more profound when a pet owner must make the painful decision to euthanize their animal.

This can be such a devastating decision, leaving pet owners riddled with guilt and despair. While euthanasia is usually the best decision for the pet, the actual process of arriving at this determination is challenging for the pet’s owner. There are many reasons for euthanizing a pet, from painful, debilitating diseases to freeing them a poor quality of life as a result of old age or injury. However, while this is a painful decision, pet owners should take heart that the decision was the right one and made in the interest of the pet they loved so much.

Animals are not able to say where they are hurting and the degree to which they are suffering. Pet owners must have the ability to be compassionate and selfless in this situation – and most do. Euthanasia is a humane process of putting a pet out of their misery and suffering and is done through a veterinarian’s office in a very kind, gentle and humane manner. They will also often provide a small box in which to transport the pet to their final place of rest, giving pet owners a chance to determine final arrangements.

When it comes to euthanasia and pet loss, tips for coping are similar to those of any other kind of pet loss but with an additional, critical element. Forgiveness. If you are feeling any sort of guilt, worry or resentment over your decision, be sure that you forgive yourself. Know that you made your decision from your heart and in your beloved pet’s best interests. It is also important to allow time to grieve the loss. Sometimes performing a formal pet memorial service can be a way to help alleviate some of the pain surrounding your loss.

Pet owners might choose to commemorate the life of their pet through burial in a pet cemetery, marking the space with a pet grave marker. For those that choose cremation, there are a wide variety of beautiful pet urns to preserve the precious remains of beloved pets. These formal tributes to pets can help to ease the pain through celebrating the joy that your pets bring into our hearts. Displaying photos of the pet can also help to ease the pain, as the photos will likely focus on the good times shared between the pet owner and their beloved animal.

Moreover, looking to the immediate network of pet loss support around, including close family members and friends, will help, particularly as they avail themselves to talk about the loss whenever necessary. Sometimes, talk therapy can be the best way to overcome such a difficult time.

It is important that pet owners allow themselves the opportunity grieve their loss. Everyone grieves and heals in their own time frame and in their own way. Incorporating other healing elements into the grieving process, like donating time at a local shelter, can help pet owners to focus on the joy that pets brought into our lives so generously, and begin the process of healing.