The feelings you experience when dealing with the loss of a pet may vary according to your situation.
However, I feel it is helpful for me to highlight the typical thoughts and behaviours you may experience when faced with the loss of a pet to remind you that you are not alone and many of these feelings and behaviours are very common.
Henry and Red at 'the beach'
Typical thoughts when in the Anger stage are:
- ‘Why did this have to happen to my pet ?’
- ‘How could my pet leave me like this?’
- ‘Why didn’t my pet fight it, why did they just give up like that?’
- ‘My pet was so well behaved and wouldn't hurt a fly – how could this happen to them?’
- ‘Why didn’t I see this coming?’
- ‘Why didn’t the Vet listen to me?’
- Why didn’t I get a second opinion when I knew the Vet had it wrong?’
- ‘Why did they die so young when we had had so little time together?’
- ‘Other pets like mine live to 12 – so why did mine get taken away from me so young?’
- ‘What did I do wrong?’
- ‘How could something so bad happen to my pet when they were so good?’
- ‘What sort of world are we living in that this can be allowed to happen?’
- ‘How could God let this happen?’
- ‘I’m a good person – why did this happen to me?’
- ‘Where were my friends when my pet died and I needed them?’
- Why didn’t I have enough money to pay for the treatment my pet needed?’
- ‘Why did my pet have to get an illness that doesn’t have a cure yet?’
- Why is life so unfair?’
Typical behaviours when in the Anger stage are:
- You may feel angry at the Vet who in your eyes did not do enough for your pet.
- You may feel angry at yourself for not seeking a second opinion even if you felt like doing so.
- You may feel like making a formal complaint to your Vet and hold them responsible for what happened to your pet.
- You may feel that your Vet did not listen to your fears that your pet was ill and so feel possible treatment or diagnosis was delayed until it was too late.
- You may feel angry at your pet for leaving you.
- You may feel angry at your pet for not responding to treatment or fighting their illness to stay with you.
- You may feel angry at your friends and family for not understanding how you feel over the loss of a pet.
- You may feel anger towards work colleagues and feel like confronting them if they make comments about your pet and comments about you taking time off to deal with the loss of a pet.
- If people ask about your pet you may feel yourself wanting to argue with them over what you perceive as insensitive comments.
- You may find yourself wanting to avoid people because you feel like screaming and shouting at them.
- The temptation to smash things or throw things is quite common, you feel angry and feel as though doing these things may help get the anger ‘out of your system.’
- If you are religious you may feel incredibly angry at God and wonder how he could let this happen to you and your pet.
- If you are not religious you may be angry at the world and universe for letting this happen to you and your pet.
- When friends tell you to ‘calm down’ or that there’s ‘no sense’ in being angry you may find yourself feeling furious that they are trying to dismiss your feelings and just do not understand how important the loss of a pet is to you.
- In situations where your pet died as a result of an accident you may feel furious at whoever you believe caused the accident and unable to be around them.
- If the pet was a family pet, you may find yourself harbouring anger towards other members of the family who do not appear as affected by the loss as you are.
- You may find yourself feeling incredibly guilty – but this is anger too, just anger at yourself.