Grief and Guilt After Pet Loss
I lost my beloved 11-year-old Chihuahua, Miss Giz, on Monday morning. She was hit by a car. I am suffering huge amounts of guilt because I failed to protect her. I didn't even get to soothe her in her final moments to tell her that everything was going to be all right. I fear the last thing she heard were my screams, and it's haunting me.
I just want to know that she's forgiven me. I don't think I'll be able to get over this. I don't want to wake up in the morning, I can't concentrate at work, and I hate going home. Please tell me the best way to go about healing.
The tragic circumstances of your loss of Miss Giz certainly make the task of grieving her death much harder, Dana. Since you were completely unprepared for this loss, it is a traumatic one. I know you are distressed by the difficulties in functioning that you are having, but this is completely normal for a devoted owner at this stage of the grieving process. You may even have intense experiences of her presence, especially at night. Haunting, guilty feelings are often experienced by the most responsible owners. I can assure you that time will reduce the intensity of these waves of grief, and time will also consolidate the wonderful memories of your dog, so that you will be reassured that she forgives you.
Your primary responsibility now is to maintain your health by eating and sleeping on a regular schedule. If you have any risk factors due to past trauma, please contact your physician.
And please know that eventually it will be of comfort to you to know that Miss Giz did not suffer when she died. Dogs go into shock almost immediately. She did not feel abandoned by you. Try to honor the wonderful bond you had with her by taking care of yourself. That way her death will not be in vain. When she was alive, your well-being was very important to her. She would want you to survive this terrible time, and eventually provide a wonderful home to another dog.