Was it really his time? Did I do everything I could? She shouldn’t have suffered so much. I wish I had been there. But she was so young. The vet said he was fine during our last checkup. I wish I had done something more. Different. Better. Can you relate? Animal communicator Shannon Cutts talks about the difficult path of pet death, grief and guilt and a trusted pathway to move through it.
Losing someone we love is always going to suck.
Here, species really doesn’t matter….and yet it does.
We feel so especially responsible for the wellbeing, care, comfort and life quality of our pets. Which means we, their pet parents, carers and guardians, may take their passing especially personally.
I am here to ask you not to.
Don’t get me wrong.
Death is always personal, especially when it is happening to you. Whether your own death or the death of your pet, there is no more personal experience in the world than to participate in the death process.
The thing is, our pets come into this world with a soul plan – a life map if you will – just like ours.
This means they, too, have a time to arrive and a time to depart. As I often share with my pet parent clients, this doesn’t mean every little detail about how and when and where and from what is ironed out in advance. It works more like a general guideline than an exact science.
So if an opportune moment arises on or near the time of their prescheduled departure, your pet may just take it. I will give you an example.
Recently I spoke to a grieving rescue mom whose pup passed suddenly while she was away. She reached out, wanting to reconnect to him, aching to know the specifics. Most urgently, she wanted to know WHAT HAPPENED?!
This is such a natural heart question.
But underneath is lurking something slightly more sinister.
Under that beautiful question, which is simply seeking closure and relief from grief, there is also the mental urgency to know – was it something I did? Was it something I didn’t do?
Was it my fault?
We always have more to learn about caring for beings of a different species than our own (heck, we always have more to learn about caring for beings of our same species – not to mention ourselves!). But I can share this with the utmost confidence – if you are asking this question while suffering through waves of loss and grief – it wasn’t your fault.
It was your pet’s time.
What my animal clients share with me when I ask them these questions is often surprising. Sometimes shocking, even. There is always a reason why they died when they did and often it isn’t what their people think it is.
Many, like my pup client from this example, don’t even want to talk about how their death happened or what caused their body to give out. But they do want to talk about why they died, as in why they went at that particular moment rather than going earlier or waiting longer to depart their physical body.
And all of my pet clients want to tell their people something specific to help with closure, relief from self-blame, release of that guilt that comes from the not-knowing how or why.
Most of all, my pet clients want their people to know they are not dead. Their body is dead. But they are alive.
My pup client wanted his person to look for her in the “funny-sad place” in her heart. This is where true grief and a healing of sorts will occur.
When you are struggling through questions like why now? what happened? was it my fault? you are stuck in your head. You are stuck, period.
Which means you aren’t going to be able to do any productive grieving there, nor are you going to be able to hear from your pet, feel their presence or receive any messages that might actually soothe you or un-stick you from guilt and self-blame.
You must move into your heart, into the place where you are crying one minute and laughing the next, missing your pet one moment and smiling over the memory of their face the next.
This funny-sad place is your salvation, your hope and your transformation. It is where your pet will meet you every time you need their company, guidance and encouragement.
What I also find is that animal communication can really help here. As a pet medium, I witness again and again how it is more than just words that come through from a departed pet to their person. Those words – those special messages – carry the animal’s unique energetic signature along with them. This is a signature the heart recognizes and trusts.
It is a special honor and privilege to hold space for and keep company with a person whose pet has passed. And it is amazing how quickly the tears can shift to laughter once the person’s heart and their pet’s heart reconnect. The shift is palpable and profound.
If you are helping a pet through hospice or end-of-life transition, or if you are moving through the grieving process after losing your pet, please know that self-recrimination, self-blame, second-guessing and regret is one possible path you can take.
But it is not your only option. It is not the most loving option. It is not the path your pet is trying their utmost to encourage you towards.
Are you mired in the trauma and shock of losing your animal love? I can help.
2 thoughts on “Coping with the Guilt of Pet Death”
I loved this article! When Grady died in February, I could only find one article on line that talked about feeling guilty about a pet dying. And now there is yours! And yours brings me so much comfort! My husband is not there yet…he still feels great guilt. But it takes time. Thank you for writing so eloquently.
Ohhhhh Maggie – my heart is with you! Talking with Grady was so special for me and now I will be thinking about your love all day. <3 My heart is grateful that this piece has brought you added comfort. Lots of love to you and your husband and your family.