EM
It's been almost two months and every day seems to get more and more difficult. Every day I get hit with a different kind of guilt, sometimes many kinds of guilt. Even simple things cause agonising guilt, such as eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, bathing, showering, teeth brushing, etcetera. Enjoyable activities are near impossible to enjoy or even pursue. Doing anything that requires fun is next to impossible. Doing things that are necessary aren't much easier indeed.
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shantismom
Em,  Guilt is such a big part of our experiences after the loss of our beloved babies. And the grief we feel can rob our lives of the everyday joy of living.  Your baby was loved and cared for for many years and you took the best care you could.  We all do the best we can, that is all we can do.
My cat Shanti lived with a number of health problems for years.  In September 2014 he started to vomit, we took him to the vet and then to a specialist, they thought it was pancreatitis.  They said give him fluids and for a few days pain meds.  He just didn't seem to get better and was on appetite stimulants and anti-nausea meds.  One day I decided to give him some pain meds left over from before and he seemed so much happier, later that day we got the message that he had pancreatic cancer and his journey was at an end.  I feel so guilty that for nearly 6 weeks he must have been in considerable pain but I didn't give him pain support.  So you see we all have guilt, could I have done more, did I take him too late, did I let him go too soon.  Really it can be never ending.  The bottom line is we did what we thought was best, we loved them in the best way we knew how and now all pain and problems are over for them, over forever.
Marlene
Marlene Wagner
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EM
Thank you very much for your kind response. I went through a very similar experience with my pooch who had prostate cancer, all the while I wasn't aware of it. When he started having trouble walking and jumping and he was reluctant to go out to the bathroom, thus I was concerned that maybe he may have had an injury or arthritis, and I was very concerned. Due to his age though, I figured that it was possibly just a natural age related type of thing. When we went to the vet last summer, they said it was arthritis because he was geriatric. They offered to clip his nails and I asked if they could do a blood test. The vet's office called me with blood test results and they were astonished at how healthy he was. They said his blood work was like that of a pooch half his age. He even started to walk a bit more comfortably after the nail clippings. It was a dry summer though, so in hindsight I think that may have reduced some swelling, enough for him to walk more easily. Now with all of that said, within another couple months, we were back to him struggling to go to the bathroom and walking and jumping. I was concerned because it was around that time that he swallowed a bone fragment. We went to the vet again and they reassured us that he would pass the bone fragment in due time. After a couple or so stressful weeks, he started to have bowel movements. He was also though getting incontinent, which again, I thought may have been either age related or possibly from the bone that he swallowed, or from the antibiotics and antiinflammatory that the vet prescribed (and I stopped giving him after eight days, after I read the possible side effects), or hopefully maybe dementia. Much to my surprise though, yet another three months had gone by, and he stopped going to the bathroom entirely, thus he also stopped eating. He even fell at one point during the week that he passed. The day that he passed, we tried taking him to the vet and he passed on my lap in the car, while trying to get up into the front seat. When we got to the vet, they brought him in and did imaging and ultrasound tests, and they showed us the size and shape if his prostate gland. I was totally surprised.
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Beaglemomma
Have to agree that no matter what we find a way to lay a guilt trip on ourselves.  It sure would help if these babes could let us know they are hurting, but like our infants we have to be mind readers.

It is pointless to tell you to not do this to yourself, since we are all doing it in some way for one reason or another.  That is almost the worst part, thinking that in any way we failed our little babies and we are totally responsible for their lives.

I know you did everything possible as we all did, just have to somehow learn how to accept that.  Not an easy lesson for sure.  Take care of yourself.
janice
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EM
Thank you for your kind reply and for encouragement. You're so right, no matter how much logic we get thrown at us, it's still so very difficult to accept things. I read all of the different stories here about what we've all gone through, and it doesn't matter how similar or different the circumstances, we all suffer through the same emotional, and sometimes even physical, pains. It does indeed hurt. And yes, there are a myriad of regrets and "what if's". It's weird how when one 'regret' or feeling of guilt gets conquered, yet another comes swooping on in to take its place. I've always been a very optimistic cheerful type of person who's never been truly depressed, but I admit that the past two months have really made me quite depressed. I do everything I can spiritually to fight the depression though, to honour my baby and respect my Father God Lord Jesus Christ.
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My_Goliath
I struggle with the same things also. Lost my sweet boy, a 15 year old Bassett on the 26th. I fed him before I left for work at 7am n my daughter called me about 840 am to get him. He was bloated soooo bad. My vet told me twisted stomach he was sure of and sent me to emergency specialist hour n half away. So getting there seemed like forever, bless his heart. They finally got going on him confirming twisted stomach. Had trouble catching because of bloat. So finally in surgery only to tell me 90% percent of tummy already deteriorated so I'm left with no choice but to euthanize. Such guilt n torment. I fed him. I put him thru 3 extra hours of suffering and upon getting him in the door at specialist I never seen him alive again so he went thru all that without me and didn't make it anyway. So many mistakes I feel I made. I didn't wanna let go so my selfishness wasn't even considering what he was going through. Miss my sweet boy. Life will never be the same:(
Pamela Ailey
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EM
It's okay, things happen for a reason, even if we don't quite know why. My condolences to you and your family. It's fascinating how many pet parents don't know too much about bloat, so your experience is an example to help others be more informed. I learned about bloat years ago, early on in my pet parenting, and it was something I've always been very cautious of. However, even we had some moments when we thought that after he ate or drank too much, something like bloat could happen; thankfully it never did. With that said though, sometimes no matter how precautious you are when it comes to bloat, it is very common and can still happen, for they are very susceptible to it. When my pooch started really showing strong symptoms of his ailment, I later found out that it was indeed his bladder that was filling up and very bloated due to his prostate pressing against his urinary tract, just like how his prostate was doing the same to his lower bowels, which put pressure on his bladder and caused incontinence. This gradually escallated over the course of a few months until the week that he passed. I had no idea what was causing it. I was very happy that he was going to the bathroom, even though it was in the house. I had to keep him clean on a daily basis, including doing a minimum of two to three loads of laundry per day. It got to the point where I was even washing the floors just about once per day, some weeks though were better than others, thus my hope for improvement. Where I feel most idiotic though, was when I started to notice some improvement with the size of his stool, I got a bit more courageous and wanted to go back to him eating some kibble dry food. I figured I would gently subtly experiment. He ate dry food regularly for many years during his childhood and adulthood and senior years, prior to me easing him off of it in his geriatric years, so I thought maybe it would help him strengthen both physically and cognitively. It worked with one of the bags of dry food that I fed to him over the course of about two weeks along with his wet food, he had great results, probably due to the ingredients. However, soon thereafter I tried yet another dry food, which has been highly marketed recently, and that was the week when he had the most difficulty with his bowel movements. So when we went to the vet, I had thought that maybe the food was the reason, but the vet said that it wasn't the reason. It was only just a matter of biding time really, and the food played only a superficial role in sustaining things. Wet foods, some dry foods, and some kinds of home cooked meals help with prostate cancer but it's sustaining and maintenance. It's not easy going through this while at the same time staying strong. Maybe that's yet another reason why I'm so upset now and letting go of my emotions. During my months of caretaking, I was emotionally distraught, no doubt about it, but I was also very focused on staying as strong as possible so I could fulfil my duty. Now though, I feel like so traumatised. I've had a 'things to do list' stacking up over the months and I had my itinerary all lined up nice and proper for when I had the time and energy. I thought I'd be upset for a couple weeks and then get on with my career and with many other things but to my surprise I can barely even focus or concentrate on even the most simplest of matters such as 'enjoying a meal' or 'getting a good nites rest'. Everything makes me feel so crummy and guilty, even eating and showering, etc.. It's as if all of the taste and fun has been taken out of all the food and daily activities that I use to enjoy so much.
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EM
I also want to add that you weren't being selfish at all. It may seem like that to you but you were just acting on your natural instincts to do whatever you could to help your kid. I fight that same kind of guilt and I know that I'm irrational when doing so. We did the best we could throughout the pressure that we had to deal with, whilst looking out for the best interest of our loved ones. Plus, we're human, flawed and broken in so many ways. It's alright to admit it, even though it's really not easy. It's out of our control, though it's very hard to realise that norless accept it and be happy with it. In my honest opinion, we've done good.
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KarenK
EM and Pamela, I am hear with you both on the guilt thing. My Petey had to be euthanized Jan. 2, almost 6 weeks ago. He had suddenly developed pancreatitis. They first thought he'd make it - he was only 7 and seemingly in good health. But he did not. Every time I visited him at the hospital he was worse, but they finally spotted a stomach tumor in an ultrasound. It was hopeless and he was in increasing pain, even with meds, and there was no hope. I've found little consolation since, and for a while experienced a lot of guilt. The things I felt guilty over kept changing, and most made little sense. It was all the "if only" stuff... maybe it I had been stricter with the weight reducing diet he'd been on... maybe the stricter diet and weight loss wasn't good for him... maybe the cloth toys he loved to chew on had carcinogenic additives... maybe if he'd gotten even more exercise... maybe the supplements he got had a bad effect.. maybe if I'd given him different food.. maybe if I'd taken him in the day he started vomiting... maybe... maybe... 

I have been reading a book about grieving in pet loss, The Loss of a Pet, by Wallace Sife. Sife is a psychotherapist with extensive experience in counseling people like us, who have lost our precious pets. He says that no matter what the circumstances, guilt is an almost universal part of the mourning process. It is actually stronger when mourning loss of a pet than a human, because part of the unwritten and usually unspoken "contract" we make when we become pet owners is that we assume total responsibility for the care and well-being of our precious pets. Then when something happens to them, we automatically feel we have done something to break that contract. This is not a conscious decision, but it's almost universal. 

Another thing that I found interesting, and applicable to me i think, is that when a much-loved pet dies, we are horrified that we had so little control over the situation. We would have prevented the death if we could have, but we discovered we had no power at all to do so. And this is very scary to us. So much so, that in many cases it is preferable to our subconscious to make up all sorts of failings on our part, things that we failed to do that, if we had done them, would have saved our babies. So it wasn't that we were powerless to save them, but that we somehow didn't do the things that could have prevented their death. I know! This seems crazy and illogical, but unlike our conscious minds, our subconscious does stuff like this all the time. 

I thought this was nuts when I first read it, but as it sunk in and I thought about it, I think this is part of what was going on with me. This has gradually helped me make peace with what happened to my Petey. Yes, maybe there were things that could have changed the trajectory of his too-short life, but like all of us, I did the best I knew how with him. And despite that, he got very sick and suffered and had to be euthanized. Understanding that the lack of control I had over what happened to him was what was *profoundly* horrifying to me, and that my mind was casting around for things perhaps I could have done to exert some power over the situation... so that I wouldn't have been as powerless as I actually was - that understanding helped, gradually, to rid me of what I knew, consciously but not emotionally, were very exaggerated feelings of guilt.

None of us wanted to hurt our dogs or cats. We did the best we could. Some people make mistakes, through lack of knowledge or momentary inattention or whatever. Even so, nothing we ever did was intended to harm our babies. S**t really does happen, and we really don't have much control over much of it. We want to believe otherwise, especially with respect to our pets, but we really don't. 

Another factor in guilt is that one of the really key phases in mourning is anger. And guilt has the added "benefit" of allowing us to turn our anger away from other people who our intellect tells us were not to blame, and onto ourselves. So instead of railing against the vet or the vet tech, or other family members who we know didn't knowingly do anything wrong, we project anger on ourselves. I suppose I did that, too. 

So, bottom line is that understanding this has helped me a lot. I still get twinges of guilt sometimes, but they are mild and I can examine them and put them aside. I am still in a lot of pain, though, over loss of my little baby boy. I don't know when the grief will end, or even get to the point where I don't cry multiple times a day. I suppose time will eventually take care of this. But I do feel like Dr. Sife's wisdom has helped a lot with the feelings of guilt, and I hope it can help you guys a little. Hugs to you.
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EM
Yeah dealing with grief is difficult enough, and then add on to that all of the guilt, and it's near impossible to manage and cope with. Ironically, at first, I didn't have too much guilt, yet I did have a tad bit of anger towards how the emergency veterinarians handled things. Yes, I still do have some frustration with how they handled things and how a lot of people I know didn't show any support, but each day that's gone by, it seems like the guilt is what keeps on attacking me. It just picks at every available vulnerability, and it even picks at many strengths too. I know that I'm a good pet parent, but the guilt still attacks areas that are weak and that are strong. I also have a very good memory, but it's funny how we sometimes tend to forget just how good we are at sharing our love with our kids. When I do reflect, like I've been doing today, I remember and do realise how good of a job I did in honouring the covenant that God put in my heart for my beloved little buddy my baby. It's difficult for us to accept that some things are out of our control, including some aspects, the natural aspects, of our covenant with our precious babies. That is where we let go and trust God. In fact, that's what I did every moment, through and through. It's just a matter though of 'realising it', and, accepting that we realise it. God knows why I have a difficult time letting go, because I'm blessed and gifted with His beautiful creation. It's His eternal property for me to respect and enjoy forever and ever for all eternity.
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