Grieving the Loss of Your Pet
|In Memory of Victoria Slan|
Special Tribute to Victoria by Sally Lippert
Have you ever lost a pet to illness or accident?
Or were you forced to give one away or leave one behind?
We all felt Joanna’s pain last week when she could no longer watch poor Victoria suffer. Joanna made the painful choice to release her pet. As her vet told her, “This is the right thing for Victoria; the hard thing for you.”
I visited Joanna’s house a few days before she decided to let Victoria go, and I could sense as I sat next to her that the dog’s life force was leaving her physical being. There was something about the way she moved, her lack of response and interest in the world around her, that signaled her withdrawal. I’ve seen the same behavior from my clients when it’s their time to die. I’ve also been amazed at how pets would respond near the end of their masters’ lives.
Most stayed in the bed snuggled up to their human’s body.
They wouldn’t eat, drink, or leave to go out especially if they had been with them a long time.
The family would call me several days later to ask what could they do for the surviving pet.
Most don’t understand that animals grieve like people.
I asked Joanna how Rafferty, her other dog, is doing without Victoria. She said he is very quiet, but he seems calm. When she took Victoria for her last trip to the vet’s office, he didn’t whine to go with them. It was almost as if he knew.
I reminded her that it was probably stressful for him to see her failing. At some point he’s going to realize that she is not there anymore, and his behavior might change yet again. I suggested that she give him extra TLC over the next few weeks.
The that I spent time with the dying was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I was able to share their final moments and a curse for the loss that I had to experience. Most of all, my work in hospice served to remind me that life doesn’t last forever. Never regret the time spent with those you love–whether it be human or an animal, their memory will leave footprints on your heart.