What if...

Losing a pet is hard enough without the anchor-bearing weight of guilt that adheres itself to our grief. Right in the middle of our most intense feelings of grief comes guilt. It smacks us upside the head and declares, "I'm baaack! You didn't think you could actually have the pain of loss without me did you?"

What an insidious and persistent pest! Guilt feeds on the raw, open wound of grief and infiltrates emotions with phrases like, "If only" and "What if" and "I should have". Guilt refuses to acknowledge that everything happens for a specific reason (whether we like it or not). To admit this would be to recognize that guilt serves no useful purpose of its own where our grief is concerned.

There are instances in life when a little guilt serves a big purpose. The kids spill grape juice on the carpet, it ticks us off and we yell. A little guilt-induced reflection helps us realize how unimportant the carpet is compared to our children's feelings. The damage to the carpet can be fixed but the damage to our children's self-esteem may be irreparable. This kind of guilt encourages us to do things differently next time.

The kind of guilt I'm talking about is different; it's destructive and ineffective. I'm referring to guilt we impose upon ourselves when we make the decision to help our pets leave this world. We do this out of love and a strong desire to ease their pain. Guilt serves no purpose here. I'm also talking about the guilt that comes when an accident has resulted in the loss of a pet. It seems impossible to keep from feeling guilty for a mistake of such a tragic magnitude but putting the guilt into perspective can aid greatly in self-forgiveness.

Our Bridgekids hold no grudges and they don't want us beating ourselves up for things we cannot or could not control. They know that "what ifs" damage the soul but forgiveness repairs spiritual bridges.

Conversations with Guilt


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