Grieving the loss of our precious pets |

Grieving the loss of our precious pets

Catherine Zeeb
Vail CO, Colorado
Columnist Cathy Zeeb

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” They say that your pet will tell you when it’s their time to go. They say it will be obvious. They say that it’s not easy, but you must make the decision soon. They say it will be like having them “just go to sleep.”

These are true statements. Not easy to say, not easy to live, but true statements. I do not believe I have ever grieved like I did when I had to put my dog of 11 years to sleep. You see, she had Cushing’s disease which for her was cancer of the adrenals. They said she would probably only live a year once she was diagnosed but she proved them wrong and lived for another three-and-a-half years.

The last three months or so of her life, she developed Lymphoma. I was up with her the last three nights of her life. She was very uncomfortable. She couldn’t sleep for any length of time as she would wake up whining. I knew the time was coming, but I was determined to hold onto every last ounce of love and time with her I possibly could. On the fourth day, all of her draining sores dried up and when I couldn’t find her, she would be laying in a corner of the living room she never laid in before. I knew this was the day.

It’s been three-and-a-half years now that she’s been gone and this is still so fresh. Our precious animals can be almost as close to us as our own children. They are part of the family and when they die, we grieve the loss.

The grief can begin before they actually leave, though. The grieving may start when you know they are sick or if they are lost. It’s good to understand how you deal with grief. What does grief look like to you? Do you give yourself permission to feel the loss? Or do you try to “cowboy up” and get on with your life ” it’s just an animal?!

We cry, we remember, we cry, we don’t wash their blanket or bed, we cry, we know they can never be replaced and we cry some more. It never gets easier; we just learn to go on without them. When grief hits, it feels like it will never end. It feels like life will never be the same again.

Anger, denial, guilt, rage, disbelief, loneliness ” you will experience one or all of these emotions and more when someone dies. It is no different for many of us when we lose a pet. It is hard for many people to understand why they feel so bad when it’s “just an animal.”

The interesting thing about our animals passing away is you always seem to feel them around you still. You may, for example, feel your cat walk across your bed or pillow during the night. You may get a glimpse of your dog down the hallway. You may think you hear a meow or a bark. And, of course, you may think you’re going crazy.

The fact is our animal companions are here to teach us about love. They don’t talk back, they greet us eagerly no matter how we look or how bad our day has been and they don’t judge us for the things we think are faults ” they don’t care about any of this. They only care that you pet and feed them and let them curl up at your feet or next to you. Their only job is to make you happy. Their only happiness comes from serving you and to see you smile or to give you comfort.

During our lifetimes we all will experience a loss of a loved one and the grief that comes afterwards. If we don’t, we haven’t loved.

Catherine Zeeb holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Metaphysics. She has a private therapy practice in Edwards and teaches Metaphysics at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. You can visit her website at

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