Feelings of guilt following euthanasia.......
After euthanasia there is nothing but raw emotion and the overwhelming feelings of sorrow and sadness, feelings that we have betrayed our beloved pet. In all the confusion and pain it leads to the feeling that we lacked in our responsibility to our beloved pet.
That sorrow and sadness felt when we have made this decision is masked by feelings of guilt. The pet owner goes back over each minute of the decision and process, questions it time and time again, but with this comes also the questions and blame and shame they lay on themselves. The guilt comes from such questioning such as “did I do the right thing” “was it the right time?” and much insecurity comes into play clouding our own judgement and perspectives because of our grief.
We are human and are not perfect but in this grieving stage we search our minds as to how this outcome could have been different. Because our emotions are running high and stress is at a peak, it distorts our way of thinking and instead of looking at this objectively we bring upon ourselves guilt, remorse and a feeling of failure.
Because we take on our pets with the responsibility of caring, nurturing and protecting them, when the decision is necessary, it is as if we have let them down in some way. We were not as in control as we should have been. Too often we are playing devil’s advocate with our own heart. The amazing love that we feel for our pet is the very same heartfelt love that we have when we make the final decision to end their life. It is the ultimate sacrifice of love but we feel like we have failed in our duty of care and with that come the feelings of guilt.
In the early stages of bereavement this guilt is not based on logic or reason but it is the normal emotional response to the shock, numbness and intense sadness that we feel. In a strange way by allowing ourselves to feel guilty or blaming ourselves for the outcome, we are in effect trying to emotionally hold onto our pet and not letting go.