Carrying Guilt if You Feel Responsible for Your Pet's Death

Dog Annie Oakley

This may not be a gentle post, I apologize. 

I just received a request for a pet urn from a woman who lost her dog to due to poisoning. She was gardening, the dog got into the fertilizer, and died. 

We love our pets. We want the best for them. We want to protect them against all harm. But life is complicated. It is physically impossible for us to protect anyone against everything. And, as hard as it is, things are just going to happen. We are not infallible. We are not god. We cannot do the impossible. 

We live in an imperfect world. And we need to be gentle with ourselves in it. Things are going to happen. That is all. It doesn’t mean that we are bad. Or good. It doesn’t mean that if we were ‘better’, accidents wouldn’t happen. They are going to. Missteps are going to be taken. 

What we cannot do is allow that to dictate who we are. We cannot attach meaning about ourselves to it. Something happened. A sad loss. And we have to grieve it. But we cannot turn it onto ourselves. We cannot make personal meaning out of an event. 

What we can do, when something bad happens, is stop with the ‘what if’s. Stop with the ‘if only’s. That will take us nowhere but down. And if we stop to think about it, it is just something our minds created. The ‘if only’ doesn’t exist anywhere in real time or space, does it? No. We can only have control over ‘what is’. 

So. Be gentle. With yourself. Forgive yourself for being human. Accept that you are not all powerful. 

Accept the time you had together as a gift. Place your focus there. Pretend it happened to your best friend. Think of what you would be telling them. You would not be blaming them. You would be giving them a soft place. Give that to yourself. Allow yourself to feel your loss without judgment. 

Love yourself like your pet loved you. That is the best gift you can give.

Guilt and Closure

When we have to make difficult choices. When we have to take on the responsibility of putting an animal down, there are always the ‘what ifs’. 

Nameless Kitty is one of those ‘what ifs’. Was it the right thing to do? Could he have been saved? Did I not try hard enough? 

He was in pain. His eyes were sealed shut. He was weak. I made a choice. And he left this earth. What a responsibility we take on. And we are not god. We are not all seeing. We do not know how it would have turned out. 

We just do the best we can in our humanness. We are imperfect, and so the question remains “Did I do the right thing?” 

Sometimes this question can haunt us. Make us lose sleep. Wish that we did not have to be the responsible one, the grown up. 

I had a hard time with Nameless Kitty. He haunted me. I only knew him for 15 minutes, yet he is with me always. 

I found answers in sharing with others. Let others support you. Let others help carry your burden of responsibility. It will take the burden off your shoulders. 

I shared with the Best Friends Network. I just poured out my heart, hoping it would help me let go. What I received in return was strength, support, and love. Sharing is the access to all of humanity. To remind us that we are all living the same life. 

If you are in pain, especially from loss, please share it with others. Allow them to hold you up. For when you are strong again, you can do the same in return. 

Please check out Nameless Kitty’s story: Candle Light Ceremony: Nameless Kitty

Pet Loss and Compassion



-a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. (from 

It is what brings together the world. It is what makes community. It is what drives us to help others. It is what creates true beauty in humanity. 

The more compassionate we are, the better the world gets. But there is one person we often forget in this beautiful idea of compassion. 

It is ourselves. We need to be compassionate towards ourselves. Always. If we are not, we will not be able to be fully open to b compassionate towards others. It will not be as powerful, have as great an effect. 

We have to start with ourselves first. 

Give yourself the gift of compassion. Especially during a time of loss. It will allow you to heal. It will allow you to get through the challenge that faces you. Open your heart to yourself, as you open it to others. Right now you need it. You deserve it. You have always deserved it. 

Think of what your pet would want for you. They are not human, so it wouldn’t translate exactly the same, of course. But they want your happiness, because they are happy when all is right with the world. And they still want that for you now. 

The way for you to be happy again is to be compassionate to yourself when needed. It is the path that will make you whole again after this loss. 

With love,


And, of course, if any of my  can help you, I am here.

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