NAVIGATING THE FINAL DAYS
That new puppy or kitty, that sweet face you adopted from a local shelter, or the one that showed up on your doorstep one day that you welcomed into your home with loving arms, has brought you and your family a lifetime of joy.
No matter the circumstances of meeting your “best friend,” you became a loving pawrent. This pet gave you so many years of love, laughter and friendship.
When the time comes, how do we say goodbye? How do we mend our broken hearts? How do we make people understand that this is not, “just a dog”, or “just a cat?”
Grieving over the impending loss or loss of a pet is REAL! Losing that unconditional love can leave us with a tremendous void in our life.
TAKE TIME TO PREPARE
Although we are not all afforded the opportunity to “prepare” for the loss of our beloved pet, some of us know the end is near. Although, what we do in the final days may not mend our broken hearts, it may provide comfort knowing that our beloved pet was able to transition peacefully, and happily.
Seek guidance from your veterinarian
Depending on the circumstances, your veterinarian may be able to help with palliative care and also help navigate you through the remaining days, weeks, and/or months.
This can give you great peace of mind knowing that your pet isn’t suffering, and that you are doing all you can for them.
Be sure to follow up on any appointments. In addition, be vigilant about giving your pet prescribed medications, as the meds are more than likely helping to effectively manage your pet’s pain.
Surround him with comfort
This is the time he needs you the most. As scary as it is for us humans, we need to go the extra mile to make the final days filled with a comforting and a loving environment.
Bucket List Ideas (Dogs)
Make the most of the time you have left together and continue that bond. These special memories can be quite rewarding.
Depending on the condition of your dog, here is a list of fun things to do with them in their final days:
- Plan a special meal of his favorites
- Take lots of family photos
- Give your dog a PAWTY!
- Take a trip (camping, beach, dog park)
DEALING WITH THE SHOCK
It’s only natural, and quite OK, to feel shocked, angry, depressed, and guilty upon the realization that your pet is in their final days.
As devastating as the news is to adults, the upcoming death of a beloved pet can be even more devastating to a child. Most young children do not fully comprehend the finality of death.
Children may have a lot of questions. There are a number of age-appropriate resources available. Younger children may benefit by reading books to them in order to help them better understand the situation. Dog Heaven and Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children are two great resources.
If possible, allow older children to become more involved. You may be able to have a more open and honest conversation with them. Seek their help in memorial projects (engraving, paw prints, magnets, photo collages, and other keepsakes).
IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK!
For many of us, the pain of losing a pet can be overwhelming and devastating. Reach out to loved ones. You may feel better if you have someone to talk to.
Dog forums, support groups, hotlines, dog groups, and/or your veterinarian can be great for support and grief counseling. Lastly, as hard as it may be, there will be some who have no understanding of the bond you created with your pet. And…that’s ok too. Reach out to those who are more understanding.