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Goodbye Lola Bean...


Nothing seems to bring me to such raw emotion than saying goodbye to a pet. I don't know if it is the enormity of having to make the life vs. death decision to euthanize ( was it too soon, did I let her suffer too long, etc.) or if it is the fact that they love so completely and unconditionally.

Maybe it is guilt..."Could I, would I, should I have acted sooner, noticed the symptoms sooner, shut the screen door tighter and so on."

I know first hand that guilt complicates grief in significant ways. I once had an iguana. By rights, my son's childhood iguana that I inherited. I broke a cardinal rule for cold-blooded animals and left her in her enclosure without shade. It was only for a short time and it was only in the 70's but I broke the rule and she died in my arms at 16 years old of heat stroke. EXTREME guilt complicated that grief.

Or maybe it is just the guilt of my sometimes being fed up with all of the responsibilities inherent to the relationship of elderly pets (I have a few) and having thoughts of how my life will be easier someday sans my houseful of dogs. Maybe it is the guilt of ignoring her too often in favor or some other task or who knows what I considered more important at the time. Maybe it is the knowledge that I do the same thing now with the humans in my life. That any loss I have will be accompanied by the ultimate question of "Why didn't I make more time for them?"

All I know (and I do know this) is that grief is grief and it is big and messy and complicated and it is all okay. It has no timeline and I think questioning life and death decisions like euthanasia should make us pause. I think recognizing that we all get caregiver burnout and desperately both want our elderly pets or even family members to live forever and die tomorrow is normal. I think we can meet ourselves at that tender spot of raw emotion with self-compassion and patience. I think we can give ourselves however much time we need to heal. I know I will.


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