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overwhelmed by intense guilt, responsibilty in death of pet


moondiamond

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hi there everyone,

this is going to be a long post but i am honestly desperate for support right now. thank you in advance for your patience if you read this through.

i posted here a year or so ago after the extremely difficult loss of our siamese cat.  i'm here again today because yesterday, i had to put my 7 year old gecko to sleep. he became very sick, was dehydrated, lethargic, weak, and possibly had a mass in his abdomen according to the vet. she suggested that putting him to sleep was the most humane option.  i'm having tremendous difficulty processing and accepting the reasons for his death; specifically, i feel as though i am solely to blame for his suffering and ultimate passing.  i know that guilt is a normal feeling in grief, but my guilt feels so real and justified in this case.  i don't know if or how i will ever be able to forgive myself for this.

some background: my gecko had a health condition that started when he was a 3 week old hatchling.  he had malnutrition and vitamin/mineral deficiencies, causing problems with his bone development early in his life.  when he came into my care, i got him veterinary treatment, a high quality, proper diet, and a proper tank setup to alleviate his deficiencies.  he ended up doing very well and i was able to restore his health at this point in time.  he never developed fully however, and remained a very small, skinny gecko for the 7 years of his life.

the reason i feel so awful now, is that in his final days, he was severely dehydrated and weak.  with this type of gecko, you need to keep the moisture level in the tank at a certain percentage, by spraying the inside of the tank with a misting bottle.  i fear that i did not mist his tank well enough, and in fact, may have forgotten to do it altogether a few times :( his tank was quite dry when i found him looking very ill the other night.  being that it's november here in canada, we had our furnace running, and i fear that the rooms in our house were perhaps a lot dryer than they were in the summertime. you need to let the tank dry out completely before spraying again to prevent mold - too much moisture isn't a good thing either, but i know in my heart that i should have been spraying the tank more to give him ample hydration. i feel SICK with guilt over this.  i am a huge animal lover, a compassionate vegan, and would usually do anything for my pets. but right now i feel like a neglectful piece of garbage and i hate myself for what has happened.

at the vet yesterday, the vet told me that geckos with the health problems he had as a baby usually only live 5-8 years, and being that he was 7 years old put him right in the middle of that.  she said that she was impressed he lived this long, given his early health issues. she said it was likely that he didn't develop completely early on as a hatchling due to his deficiency issues. regardless of all that, i told her about the hydration worries i had, and she said it sounded like i cared for him well and that she sees a lot of geckos like him that pass as early as 1 or 2 years.  she said she believed i did everything right and didn't seem to pay much mind to my concerns about the hydration level in the tank.

her words were reassuring but i still cannot forgive myself for this. i feel like i could have continued to give him years of life and that he was dehydrated because of me :( my husband and family have been trying over and over to tell me that i took good care of him and that even if i forgot to mist the tank a few times, that he was unwell from the beginning of his life, and that i still gave him 7 years against the odds. but i know in my heart i could have done better, and i know my guilt is justified.  i just don't know how i am ever going to forgive myself :(

 

please please help me :(

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I'm so sorry, Laura. You say that you cannot forgive yourself for this, even though your vet has reassured you that it was your good and conscientious care that kept your gecko alive and gave him the life he enjoyed with you for so many years. I'm afraid that in the end, you are the only one who truly can forgive yourself, and you are the one whose forgiveness really matters. I suggest that you give yourself some time to lean into and feel the pain and come to terms with what has happened. You might find it helpful to go back and read through some of your posts from a year ago (see http://j.mp/2hc2hqS) ~ Sometimes knowing that we've been in a similar place before in our lives and remembering that we found a way to make it through will give us the hope and the courage we need to make it through again this time. In any event, you already know that here you are among fellow animal lovers, and you can pour your heart out without anyone passing judgment. Again, I'm so sorry this happened, and so sorry for your loss 

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Hi there, I completely understand where you are coming from as it's only been a week since I had to make the worst decision I've ever had to make & I hope & pray I never have to make that decision ever again. My beautiful 11yo toy poodle was euthanised after being ill, not eating or drinking for a few days & I thought I could help her at home, I waited too long before it was an emergency trip to the vet, & too late for her. I didn't have any support at that time, I was frowned upon by the Vet who was an arrogant greedy cold man, and I couldn't bear to be with her at the time she was euthanised, which made the guilt more intense, & her going off with a horrible man was her last memory, instead of being at home in familiar surroundings.

 

guilt, I've realised is actually a good thing, it's healthy because it will help you change what you might need to change about yourself. I thought I would be overwhelmed by guilt, it literally attacked me, so I decided to do something positive, your pet knew your heart & knew that this was not deliberate, I will make sure my pets life will not be forgotten & her love & faithfulness a cherished memory. Obviously we all do things differently. I hope you find some sort of inner peace, & not be so hard on yourself.

this group has really helped me in my grief, they're amazing here, it feels so much lighter to share grief here & know that these people actually understand how you feel, I'm not sure I'm the right person to help you so soon after losing Jesse, but I wish you the best, try not & give yourself a hard time, you sound as though you really love animals. 

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thanks marty for your empathy and understanding. i ended up reading my old posts as you suggested and actually found myself wanting to give advice, as if it was someone else who wrote those posts. i found that i have learned a lot in my grief. it’s all too familiar now with my more recent loss. i keep telling myself that i WILL feel better with time. i wouldn’t have believed that last year when i was going through this, but i find it more comforting this time knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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hi chrissie, 

i am so sorry for the loss of your toy poodle. i understand completely how much it hurts. thank you so much for taking the time to respond and write such kind words to me. i know how difficult grief is to navigate. the fact that you took time to help someone else while you’re going through such difficulty yourself is very caring and compassionate of you. we had to put our sweet perfect siamese cat to sleep last year; i remember too clearly how awful it is to make that decision. i had visions afterwards for so long of his last day on earth, the cold vet clinic, and how afraid he must have been. the ordeal was traumatic and i am so sorry that you’ve been faced with it. i am now having to endure this pain a second time with my poor little gecko. the guilt i feel is unbearable. i am trying to look for the positives and focus on the life he had when he was still here with me. his loss has hurt me so much more than i ever could have expected. i hope you’re able to find some peace and calm soon as well. after losing my siamese cat, i somehow did feel better after some time and was able to look back on his memory with a smile. the pain is no longer traumatizing, but i will always miss him. i hope we both have that healing with our recent losses. hang in there, hugs to you.

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Laura,

I'm so sorry for the loss of your gecko.  Guilt is common in grief, its a natural response to wishing we could go back and redo things and have a different outcome, but the fact is that's not possible even if we'd been perfect.  We do our best as humans and you gave him a good home and I'm sure he's grateful for the time he had with you.  I find this article of help and hope it is of comfort to you.

http://media.wix.com/ugd/0dd4a5_e934e7f92d104d31bcb334d6c6d63974.pdf

and this one

http://www.pet-loss.net/guilt.shtml

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hi kayc, 

thank you for taking the time to read and respond. i am trying to remember that guilt is a natural reaction to loss; my guilt just feels so real and valid that it’s been very hard for me to accept that what i’m feeling is just part of the grief process. the articles you linked to were helpful in giving me perspective. i’m grateful to be able to post here on the forum too, having it and an outlet has been a shoulder to lean on for me the past few days. 

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Marty has a lot of wonderful resources, articles, blog, etc and much is there to be found and given to us to help us in our grief journey.  I certainly hope you're able to continue to remember that guilt is part of the grief and you are not alone, by any means, in your feelings.

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