Often, the emotions and stress that you experience when you realize that a loss is impending are as painful and difficult as what you will experience after the loss has occurred.
With regard to pet loss, this is also true. When you know the end of life is near for your treasured dog or cat, you may experience an array or depth of emotion that shocks or debilitates you. Often this onslaught of emotions is also accompanied by the additional stress of making decisions about your pet's care or end of life. Not only are you coping with the day-to-day challenges of medicating your pet, cleaning up after your pet or wondering about their comfort, but you are also watching their every move looking for "signs". You may be finding the logistics of gathering information overwhelming or be exhausted by the sheer task ahead of you. You may be scared of the unknown, and you almost certainly will be experiencing "anticipatory grief".
Anticipatory grief will vary from situation to situation. It is important, however, to realize that it is a very real form of grief......and can even be more challenging than the grief you feel after your pet has passed away.
If you are experiencing anticipatory grief, it helps to talk it out with a trusted confidant. You may also benefit from seeking support from a pet loss group. These groups are helpful not just when a loss has occurred, but for those who know it is about to occur. You may be more comfortable doing your own research or seeking a therapist privately.
All of us at At Home Veterinary Services have been through the grief that is experienced prior to the loss of a pet, and are willing to share our experiences with you. We are also happy to just listen. Please feel free to call us or to reach out to one of the resources we've compiled if you need to talk with someone.
Most importantly, know that your emotions are valid and very real and that you are not alone.