The Guilt of Not Being There - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-15-2012, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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The Guilt of Not Being There

Recently our family dog Rolly had to be put down, I understood the decision due to his health and age. What's haunting me is that I didn't get the chance to be with him in his final moments nor did I have a choice. We took him to the vet in the morning, they wanted to do a couple of tests on him, they said they would give us a call. We went back home and waited, without anybody else knowing my dad got the phone and called the vet (got the bad news) and gave the go ahead to put him down.

I found out by walking into his room and he was sitting on the bed crying. I guess he thought he was protecting us from seeing our beloved pet die but instead I just feel nothing but a wave of guilt over that fact that I wasn't there. If I had known that he was being euthanized I would of been there. Even though I didn't get that choice I still feel guilty.

Anybody else out there have the guilt of not being there in your pet's last moments?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-15-2012, 10:21 PM
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Location: Worcester, MA
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Hi Polly Wally,

I am sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is the same as losing a family member.

I had a similar experience from your dads point of view in having to put down my sons dog years ago. For me though, it was not about keeping it from my son, it was that Max (the dog) was suffering and we had to make the decision quickly

But, I will share something else. My mom passed away 5 years ago. I had just moved from GA to MA and my mom was still in GA. She had cancer when we left and I "said goodbye" when I left - knowing I would not see here alive again. 6 months later and I got the call that there were just days left for my Mom. I told myself I had already said goodbye.

It took me a long time to move past that guilt. In the end, knowing that it was going to happen didn't make any difference at all. So whether or not you knew about it doesn't help much.

We tell ourselves that if we had been there we could have said goodbye. But, I think that is almost never true. There is no amount of goodbye that truly closes the door on the emotions of someone (including pets) passing away. Even if you had been there, you would still miss Rolly and have some form of pain.

Right now, you are assigning your pain to the guilt of not being there. But, I think if you had been there you would just be assigning that same pain to something else.

My 2 cent advice - acknowledge the pain and the loss. Let it in, feel it and express it as needed (cry, write, sing, laugh, pray). Then let the pain and Rolly both go.

What kind of pet will you get next?

My Menagerie:


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If you love your pets and keep them happy and healthy, the will do the same for you!

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-16-2012, 02:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Shawn, that makes me feel a little better.

Right now I'm not thinking of another pet, maybe sometime in the future.
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