1. Am I crazy to hurt so much? Intense grief over the loss of a pet is normal and natural. Don't let anyone tell you that it's silly, crazy, or overly sentimental to grieve!
2. What Can I Expect to Feel? Different people experience grief in different ways. Besides your sorrow and loss, you may also experience guilt, denial, anger and depression.
3. What can I do about my feelings? The most important step you can take is to be honest about your feelings. Don't deny your pain, or your feelings of anger and guilt. Only by examining and coming to terms with your feelings can you begin to work through them. Someone you loved has died, and you feel alone and bereaved.
4. Who can I talk to? If your family or friends love pets, they'll understand what you're going through. Don't hide your feelings in a misguided effort to appear strong. Working through your feelings with another person is one of the best ways to put them in perspective and find ways to handle them. Find someone you can talk to about how much the pet meant to you and how much you miss it…someone you feel comfortable crying and grieving with.
5. When is the right time to euthanize a pet? Your veterinarian is the best judge of your pet's physical condition; however, you are the best judge of the quality of your pet's daily life. If a pet has a good appetite, responds to attention, seeks its owner's company, and participates in play or family life, many owners feel that this is not the time. However, if a pet is in constant pain, undergoing difficult and stressful treatments that aren't helping greatly, unresponsive to affection, unaware of its surroundings, and uninterested in life, a caring pet owner will probably choose to end the beloved companion's suffering.
6. Should I stay during euthanasia? Many feel this is the ultimate gesture of love and comfort you can offer your pet. Some feel relief and comfort themselves by staying. For some, not witnessing the death makes it more difficult to accept that the pet is really gone. However, this can be traumatic, and you must ask yourself honestly whether you will be able to handle it.
7. Will my other pets grieve? Pets observe every change in a household, and are bound to notice the absence of a companion. Pets often form strong attachments to one another, and the survivor of such a pair may seem to grieve for its companion. Cats grieve for dogs, and dogs for cats. You may need to give your surviving pets a lot of extra attention and love to help them through this period. Remember that, if you are going to introduce a new pet, your surviving pets may not accept the newcomer right away, but new bonds will grow in time. Meanwhile, the love of your surviving pets can be wonderfully healing for your own grief.