By Doug Koktavy, Esq - Best selling author of The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer and Co-author of Your Dog's GoldenYears
I used to think grieving was something that began after a loved one passed. So when my nine-year-old Labrador retriever Beezer was diagnosed with kidney disease, it never occurred to me to seek out emotional help for myself during his illness. I could have used it. Beezer was dying, but I was drowning in fear and guilt—fear of what lay ahead when the illness worsened and guilt about my possible neglect in caring for him. Only later did I learn my condition had a name: anticipatory grief.
Anticipatory grief: The normal mourning that occurs when a patient or family is expecting a death. Anticipatory grief has many of the same symptoms as those experienced after a death has occurred. It includes all of the thinking, feeling, cultural and social reactions to an expected death that are felt by the patient and family.
People can go through anticipatory grief when pets are dying as well, and we are just beginning to understand the scope of the malady related to our own companion animals. Whether it is a person or a pet who is dying, symptoms for family members, loved ones and caregivers can include denial, mood swings, anger, frustration, fear, guilt, and depression. Anticipatory grief also can lead to physical symptoms, such as weight gain or loss, sleep problems and, in my case, high blood pressure. I came close to being hospitalized for hypertension.
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Some thoughts for those who have lost their companion animal, by Ardeth DeVries - Grey Muzzle Advisory Board Member, courtesy of OldDog Haven
Old Faithfuls article by Connie Schultz
Grief Healing Website
Grief Healing Discussion Group
Grief Healing Blog
Grief Healing on Facebook
www.Dogwise.com Books and resources
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The Grey Muzzle organization is one of the many pet-oriented groups that I work with. They have contributed to the well-being of countless older pets, and instruction to their human counterparts in numerous ways. They are a top-drawer, top-notch group of dedicated individuals.