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Guilt & Forgiveness

When our pet dies, our natural instinct may be to believe that we could have done something to prevent it. The final memories you have of your pet are now tarnished with you questioning yourself and feeling like you have failed your pet.

Why do we feel this way?

Instinctively when something goes wrong we want to make it right, when we feel like we are losing control we must find something or somebody to blame for the way we feel. This response is even more intensified by the profound sense of responsibility we feel toward our pets. No matter what happens, we are responsible and when something goes wrong guilt is present.

How should we respond to guilt?

Everyone has a choice in how they respond to a negative stimulus. With guilt comes resilience, think about people whose homes have burned down or those who have lost everything in a hurricane, they can chose to rebuild and be positive or become depressed and miserable.  We can’t always control how we lose or pets but we can choose how to respond to our emotions. Not blaming yourself and understanding you do not need to continue suffering are ways to break the cycle of guilt. Here are some choices that can help you take the upper hand over guilt.

1. Choose not to rehearse guilt:

Stop repeating the same guilty thoughts, or these thoughts will not cease. You must tell yourself to stop thinking about guilt, when you find yourself wandering down that painful mental path, put up a mental road block. Try instead to focus on something that makes you happy and remind yourself that there is more to your life than negativity.

2. Choose to accept what cannot be changed:

A self-imposed life sentence for past mistakes accomplishes nothing. It does little to change the past and can ruin your future. Focus on your future, because you cannot change the past.

3. Choose balance:

Guilt keeps us focused on the times we imagine we have failed. When you find yourself thinking of negative thoughts try focusing on the fact that you were a very good, caring and responsible owner. Remember the fun times and all the things that you did right.

4. Choose forgiveness:

Forgiveness leads to freedom, freedom to get on with your life without regrets for the past. Forgiveness has always been at the foundation of your relationship with your pet, and now you need to make it the foundation of your own healing. Each time guilt tries to remind you of some past mistake, acknowledge the mistake and forgive it. Treat yourself with the same degree of love and acceptance that your pet gave you. Only then will you be able to heal and love again.

 

Copyright 2001 by Moira Allen from The Pet Loss Support Page http://www.pet-loss.net