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Are You Punishing Yourself for Your Pet’s Death?

  •    September 12, 2019
  •    Karen Anderson

We are quick to blame ourselves when a pet dies


It is not uncommon to blame ourselves for our pet’s death even if they died from natural causes. Grief brings about all kinds of painful thoughts of what we could have done or should have done to prevent their death. Our thoughts surface immediately and point the blame directly at us.

  • – I should have sensed something was wrong
  • – I should have been more diligent with their medicine
  • – I should have taken them to the vet sooner
  • – I could have been a better caretaker


When Accidents Happen…

Our ego wants to control that which we have no control over especially when accidents happen. We punish ourselves relentlessly and run the fateful scenario through our minds for days, weeks, or longer. Each time the pain goes deeper like a dagger plunging into your heart.


You may experience physical symptoms, insomnia, and depression.

It is a challenging and difficult time that none of us want to endure.

The key to releasing the stabbing pain of guilt is to practice releasing your ego

To understand how to release ego we have to have a clear understanding of what ego is. There are many definitions in the psychological arena and in the spiritual sense but here is an example:


Your ego is often defined as whatever comes to your mind when you think of yourself

The psychological definition includes your ideas about yourself, your beliefs, ideologies, social affiliations, desires, fears, and much more.

The spiritual definition includes a veil of thought that separates you from who you really are.

You are more than your body, more than your beliefs, more than your image.

You are a mighty and powerful spiritual being capable of anything you set your intention on accomplishing.

Am I normal to feel this way?

We instinctively search for answers or judge our actions when a pet dies. We are their caretakers and it is our job to make sure they are healthy and safe at all times. When something tragic happens we make ourselves the focus of everything that we feel went wrong. We start the cycle of guilt and we regret everything we did or didn’t do on the day of the incident. Our anger, pain, or blame can also be directed at the veterinarian, our loved ones, or even the pet that died.

Ego takes over our thoughts and we start a cycle of self-punishment


  • – We think, “I am guilty so therefore I should suffer…”
  • – Suffering gives us control (ego again)  over a situation we feel is out of control.
  • – We can’t get our pet back but we can continue to punish ourselves.


Is your ego in control of your thoughts?

To determine if your ego is in control ask yourself these questions:


  • Did you set out that day to harm your pet?
  • Did you intentionally set the stage for events to happen as they did?
  • Did you do everything in your power to end your pet’s life?
  • Did you willingly kill them either by your hand or by some other object?


If the answer is no then you are not responsible for their death.

Even if you knew in the back of your mind that you shouldn’t have done what you did that is ego trying to stay in the driver’s seat of your thoughts.

You are a victim of unfortunate circumstances brought about by an unplanned series of events.

You are no more responsible for your pet’s death then you are their birth

You spend your entire life caring for your pet. You have fed, bathed, clipped, medicated, hugged, loved, and snuggled with that pet and done everything in your power to give them a wonderful and loving home.

You are not an evil person deserving of punishment…


Ego is driving your guilt so it can stay in control of your life. When you release your ego, you release all the guilt associated with events that are unintentional.

You never intended to harm your pet nor did you wake up that day and decide to unlatch the gate which they escaped from.

You didn’t place them in front of the vehicle that hit them, nor did you place the poison/toxin in their mouth to ingest.



The more appropriate expression of your feelings may sound like this:

  • – I am angry at myself for leaving the gate unlatched.
  • – I am angry at myself for not taking my pet to the vet sooner.
  • – I am angry at myself for letting my pet off-leash or out of my sight
  • – I am sad and lonely and I miss the life we shared

When you place the blame on yourself you place yourself in a state of eternal punishment and nothing will convince you that you are not guilty.

This endless circle of blame envelopes every thought and paralyzes your happiness.

You continually feel bad about the incident and the circle of devastation continues.

What can I do to release ego and pain?

You can start by saying these three simple words:

“I forgive myself.”


Feeling guilty does not serve you or your departed pet.


You can change your path of self-punishment

Positive affirmations allow you to shift your perspective and begin the journey into healing.

Say them often and say them out loud.

Be patient. It takes time to work through grief.

Post little notes around your home or in your car.

Only you can change your thoughts and stop punishing yourself…




If you aren’t ready to say these words out loud, ‘I am not guilty for the death of my pet,’ then it may be time to seek professional help from a certified grief counselor.

Be gentle with yourself.

You are a victim

You suffered a loss

You deserve love

Don’t allow your guilt to extinguish your life – You deserve to live a full and happy life

After conducting thousands of afterlife sessions with departed pets not one time has a pet told me that their human caretaker was responsible for their death. Nor have they said their life was ended too soon. The majority of pets say they were ready to go sooner than later as we tend to keep them here longer for our own sake.

Our self-punishment is completely unnecessary and only fuels our ego to continue to torture our soul.


You are a wonderful, caring, loving pet parent and your pet loves you and knows you would never harm them.

Start your journey into healing now…Say these words, “I forgive myself…and set myself free.”




If you can relate to this topic or have a story you’d like to share please comment below.

I read every post and appreciate the time you take to share your experience with me.

Please SHARE this post with others who are in a cycle of guilt. 

With love and light,


Watch and Learn Animal Communication – Free Class!

Get your free copy for a limited time, “The Amazing Afterlife of Animals” and a free ebook, “The Secrets of Animal Communication Revealed” click here for instant access.


Karen Anderson is an award-winning Afterlife Expert and coach with over 22 years of experience helping clients just like you surpass their goals.  She is also an award-winning and #1 bestselling author of ‘The Amazing Afterlife of Animals’ and ‘Hear All Creatures’. Karen offers a series of signature coaching programs from book publishing, book marketing, business coaching and offers women entrepreneurs her secrets to creating a successful business with her private Facebook group, BOOM! Business is Booming!  If you want to know Karen’s secrets of Animal Communication so you can talk to your pets fast check out Karen’s online course.  For those who are serious about their skills or becoming a pro, the Animal Communication Mastery Program is for you! Check out the free webinar series for Animal Communication too! Karen makes her home in the Inland Pacific Northwest on a farm with her husband and the animals she loves.



  1. Thank you for this email, Karen. Even though we’ve reached out to my beloved cat, Shady, and he seems so happy, I still beat myself up about his passing. I could definitely relate to the “what if’s”: I sought too aggressive treatment for him; I had noticed sooner he was off; my anxiety about his sudden illness contributed to his demise and on and on and on. I will take your advice to heart and follow your suggestions so that I can resolve this blame game or at least begin the long road to doing so. Thank you for your advice, Karen, it is invaluable. <3

    1. I’ve done the same thing, Linda. Before I found out how it never crosses our pet’s minds nor do they mention it during a session. They just don’t see it the same way we do. Thank you for sharing and I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sure Shady knows you love him to the moon and beyond and would have done anything to keep him healthy and here on Earth longer. xoxo

  2. Thank you for this insightful article. I have been beating myself up since June 19, 2018, when, into our 2nd day of vacation our housesitter calls and says something is very wrong with our seemingly very healthy 8-year old golden retriever, Sammie Jo.

    Long story short she died unexpectedly that day.

    I couldn’t catch my breath. My heart physically hurt so much I thought it was going to explode. I was with several other people on a houseboat and tried so hard to suppress how I really felt as I didn’t want to bum everyone else out. Holding back my pain had a really bad effect on me and when I was alone I would sob endlessly.

    When we got home it was worse and I continued like that for over one year. I became depressed. Thought I could work through it but realized that it was bigger than I was. So I sought professional help – first time in my otherwise very happy life – but I guess it helped validate hearing from a trained professional that what I was feeling was not all that uncommon.

    My puppy’s death had become a trigger for me. Having to suppress my emotions like I did helped no one. I’m happy to say I’m doing 50% better, I still have my days, but I am strong and I will beat this eventually … hopefully sooner than later. Thanks for reading!

    1. I’m so sorry Allyson…I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you. A loss can affect us physically as I have also suffered from ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’. I thought I was having a heart attack and it was diagnosed as grief-induced stress from a loss. I have also felt the weight of the world crush me and literally make it hard to breathe, impossible to sleep or concentrate. We torture ourselves needlessly when we suffer a loss. Our pets know inherently that we love them completely and would do anything we could for them. They sense that we are trying to do our best on their behalf. My saving grace was hearing from literally thousands of departed pets (and my own too) that they do not hold us responsible when accidents happen or death occurs. They will often take responsibility for their own actions if it led to their passing. I’m so glad you sought help for your depression. It is very validating to know we are allowed to grieve and that it is normal to feel physically ill from a loss. My very best of healing hugs to you sweet lady.

  3. Thank you, for these words. I know that my dog, Bear, was at his time to cross over the rainbow bridge. I had a hard time thinking if and what I could have done or that I should have seen it coming. Bear left so fast, so I question myself did I miss something? It’s been a couple of months now and I tell myself each day it is a circle of life. But for whatever reason I didn’t accept it. When he passed, I read your book The Amazing Afterlife Of the Animals. the book filled my heart, I know Bear is happy. So now I tell myself every day I was the best Mommy and I loved Bear to the end and forever. Thank you.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss Lillia. It is devastating when they leave so quickly. We are often left feeling empty and not fit to be a pet parent. It is so important to celebrate the time you shared with Bear and make his life more important than his death. Imagine how much it means to him so see you smiling, happy, and living your life to the fullest. That is exactly what he would want. You are honoring him by stating those positive affirmations of love! Sending love and healing to you

  4. Hi Karen, thank you for this article. It has been exactly 14 months since my sweet Caramel passed away. I relate so much to that topic especially the part where it says « you didn’t put your pet in front of the vehicle » « I would never intentionally hurt my baby » but I can’t forgive myself for not being more careful. I asked her for forgiveness but I can’t forgive myself even though I know she forgave me because she sent some some signs.

    For example, since her death I was grieving so badly that I could only wear dark colors and I could listen to music for at least 4 months. One day, I realized that I was really in a bad shape and decided to make an effort. That day, while driving, radio off, I started talking to her, I told her that I wasn’t well and that I needed to survive, told her how much I loved her and that even if I started to laugh again or to sing again it wouldn’t mean that I had forgotten about her. I told her that I would alway love her.

    So right after my talk with her I turned on the radio and there was a beautiful music, I liked it so much that I wanted to know who the artist was so I activated SoundHound and the name of the song showed up it was “I love you”. I am sure it was her.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Laurence. I know Caramel means everything to you and I can’t imagine how devastated you must be without her. I’m so glad that you found validation within this blog post. Every little bit helps you move closer to healing. It is so hard to forgive ourselves and I hope someday you will find that you can use shift all the energy you focused on grief into powerful, positive, loving thoughts and affirmations. I’m sure Caramel would love that too! The signs she gave you were amazing! I’m sure she is right by your side patiently waiting for you to heal. Keep asking her for signs and remember to thank her when she sends them! Sending healing hugs xoxo

  5. This is a strange place in my head as logic battles with social expectations and emotional control.

    I talk to my boy, Argyle every day and logically know he’s with me every moment, but I can’t allow myself to do that in public. I keep myself distracted and detached most of my days, even when a customer is telling me how the death of his son has affected his life and why this car means so much to him because it was his son’s car…. while my heart is crying out, “I lost my son too!!”

    But one isn’t supposed to compare the loss of an animal to a human, no matter what scientists say. My dad died a few months before Argyle and I try to tell my mom that he’s there with you, just like Argyle is with me, but she shuts my comforting words down with religious righteousness and I am at a loss of what to say.

    I try to avoid places and activities that remind me too much of Argyle unless I’m alone in case I can’t control my tears. But when I am alone, I talk to him and reminisce about our many adventures.

    I swing this wild ride between peace and contentment with feelings of longing and guilt… not of really anything I did, but more how my life has changed without him being the center of my everyday. Did he have to go because he knew my new life couldn’t have both?

    Karen, you make me feel less crazy and your words remind me to try to be patient with this life lesson I’m trying to figure out.

    I am struggling to find words to convey how vital you are…, how grateful I am…. so many swirling thoughts and emotions.

    1. Danielle, I am so very sorry for the loss of your amazing boy, Argyle. He is truly the most amazing boy! I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you and to hear you share the pain, sadness, and utter sense of loss is heartbreaking. They are like children to us. I don’t have any human children so they are children to me. I totally get that. It is a crazy roller coaster ride as we navigate through the feelings of grief. Something will trigger us and it all feels so raw again. Just remember, when you are ready, this is your journey…Argyle will be so happy when you move into healing. That energy serves you both much better than the pain, sorrow, and sadness. Sending big healing hugs xoxo

  6. Thank you for this Karen I can really relate to this.

    I recently lost my dog Benny and questioned myself for not doing enough for him as he had a heart condition. I also lost a dog called Freddie who passed along time ago and blamed myself and husband for not doing enough to save him (he was hit by a car). Time has helped heal and I agree you have to forgive yourself and I know in my heart that my dogs felt truly loved whilst on this earth.

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet boys, Freddie and Benny. It doesn’t matter how much time goes by. They leave such an imprint upon our hearts and souls. I’m so glad you are able to move into healing and focus on the goodness, the memories, and use that energy in a positive way. Thank you for sharing sweet lady. xoxo

  7. Karen thank you for this article. I read it at 5 am after work and I now know a bit more of what I’ve been going through for almost two years….while reading this article and all of the comments I just cried uncontrollably…. I lost my Sunshine, my center, my life, my love, my light almost 2 years ago. My life and identity revolved around her for so long!!

    She is my everything!! She was by my side day and night through so much of life for so long…..There is not a day that goes bye that I don’t feel guilt and regret. I think about how I should’ve spent more time with her, why didn’t I do this or that and on and on…..just all of the little things. A rip myself up about it every day. I feel that I let her down and that I should have been better.

    I hope that she felt loved. I would have done anything in my power to make her better, to heal her. I constantly feel that the vet missed something, I missed something. She was at the vet’s twice in one week before she passed and there was nothing to be found that was wrong. It happened so quickly, it went from 0 to 100 miles two minutes. I feel her with me always….❤️❤️❤️

    1. Tina, I am so sorry for the loss of your Sunshine. There are few words to ease your pain. Sometimes we don’t know where to start because all we feel is sadness, guilt, and pain. Tears are cleansing and I recommend letting your emotions go where they need to go. That nagging feeling that something was overlooked is likely connected to the ego side of the brain. Try not to fuel it. I’m sure she knows you love her more than life itself and she is likely right there with you as I type this. Just imagine her with you, gently nudging you, letting you know she is alive and well in spirit and feeling very loved by you.

      This is your journey so take each step when you are ready. Be gentle and kind to yourself. You have lost the love of your life and you are entitled to feel all the emotions that are surfacing. Deep grief is a reflection of deep love so when you are ready to shift into a healing space, Sunshine will be so happy and ready to see you smile again. Sending love and healing xoxo

  8. I rather unexpectantly lost my boy Copper from illness. He was a rescue off the streets and I think we adopted each other. I don’t know anything about his life before us, but I suspect it wasn’t good. Copper had several surgeries for illness but he was so strong and just pulled through each day so strongly. So when he got sick, I just thought it was his medicine or he was being stubborn. It’s unbearable not having him with me. We went to the vet just to get checked out but he did not return with me. I feel so guilty and I wanted to bring him home. I have your book and it has helped so much. I have also joined a pet grieving group but my heart aches so much each day. It will be 4 months soon. I also feel like he is mad at me!! I know he is sending me signs but I just wish I knew for sure that’s he’s ok. He was such a sweet soul. I miss us.

  9. Thank you for this very timely email, Karen. I lost my Sundance about 5 weeks ago. I keep wondering if I missed something (he had bone cancer) and then chastising myself for potentially putting him down too soon. He was in a lot of pain – and my friend Ron Sohler saw a red dog meet him when he crossed the rainbow bridge. That red dog (Ron never met him) was Dusty. Ron said the two were running together and that’s what Sundance liked to do – run. Sundance has “appeared” by my bed at night a few times. And he may have thrown a tennis ball at me. I miss him terribly – it’s so different without him. But I’m so grateful for him. He brought me so much love and happiness. We (Bandit and I) are trying to find a new normal. Bandit grew up with Sundance and they are literally brothers from another mother – just so different. Sundance was the alpha – probably over me too. Bandit is coming into his own gradually. It’s just super quiet here. Your email was really helpful – thank you!

    1. I am so sorry for your loss, Mary. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you not only losing Sundance but questioning your decision. From my own experience, it feels like we ended their lives too soon and should have sought other options or waited longer. The crazy part is if we kept them here longer then we would feel like we kept them alive too long! We just can’t win with our own conscience!

      I loved reading about Dusty and how Ron saw them running together. I am not surprised as Ron is very talented even though he says he isn’t.

      I’m so glad this article has helped you feel a little more at ease and hopefully, you and Bandit will find your ‘new normal’ soon.

  10. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so much for this article. Reading this has really helped me. We recently lost our beautiful girl, Dorothy. She was a foster care rescue – she had been ill for a long time and was struggling with a large tumor on her mammary gland. We made the decision to have her put to sleep as she was in pain and had stopped eating. But the day she died she had temporarily been more upbeat than normal and I cannot get the feeling out of my head that I failed her. That we made the decision too soon. That she doesn’t know how much I loved her and that I let her down.

    I know now reading this that I have to forgive myself.

    All of the veterinary professionals told me I was doing the right thing, so she wasn’t in pain anymore. Had we waited her death could have been much more painful and traumatic for her I just miss her more than I can put into words. I’d give absolutely anything to give her one last cuddle and tell her I love her.

    Thank you for this article. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.


    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved girl, Dorothy.

      You made an impossible decision but one I’m sure was made with love and the best of intentions. Dorothy knows this and I’m sure she is very grateful that you helped her make her transition calmly and smoothly.

      I want to acknowledge something you mentioned. You said she was more upbeat than normal on the day she died. This is something that I refer to as a ‘healing crisis’. A healing crisis is when a pet is gravely ill, lethargic, in pain or discomfort then suddenly just before they pass they bounce back, act young again, and seem to magically recover from whatever was ailing them. Typically, they aren’t here very long after a healing crisis but it can make us question our decision to euthanize.

      When a healing crisis occurs it is a natural and normal event. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does it is just as you described it. What happens is Mother Nature sends them a blast of ‘life-force’ energy as they sense the end of life is near. Remember, in nature, there is a very strong survival instinct that all animals have. This can wreak havoc with us as we are trying to determine when is the best time to euthanize. This ‘healing crisis’ will cause us to doubt our decision as we think that somehow they will recover from their illness or health issues.

      The healing crisis does not last long, maybe just a few hours or days. Then we are right back in crisis mode trying to help our pets when they are in a downward spiral.

      In my opinion, based on what animals tell me, it is much easier for pets to make their transition to the Other Side when all involved are balanced and emotionally calm. If we wait until they are crashing, spiraling downward, is not the ideal time to euthanize. It is much easier on the pet if we help them leave peacefully and in a relaxed environment.

      I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive yourself. It sounds like you made all the right decisions on Dorothy’s behalf and they were all made with love.

      Remember to make her life more important than her death and know she is right there by your side as there is nowhere else she would rather be.

  11. OMG – I am so happy I ended up here reading your blog post Karen. My Tiny girl died on Sunday and I have been doing the what if’s to myself like crazy. It all happened so fast, and now that I know what she was suffering from there were several decisions I made about her care that were incorrect. I miss my girl so badly it takes my breath throughout the day. I’m going to reread this post many times so I can release the ego and get to the celebration of her life and our time together. She was the cutest little monster in the world and I want to hold her preciousness close to me. I love you Tiny girl!

  12. I just put my baby boy Rocky down 10 days ago. Apparently he had Respiratory Heart Failure and I somewhat knew but thought he had Cushions Disease because of his enlarged belly. What kills me is he has signs and would cough and it progressively got worse but not enough to where I was concerned.

    One day, I gave him a treat and meant to only give him part of it. When I looked over, he had eaten the entire stick and knew he would throw up that night. I was awoken at 4:00 am on Monday morning to him throwing up. This time it was different. His breathing wasn’t consistent and it sounded like he was struggling. I monitored him for an hour before I realized he needed to go to Emergency. They rushed him to the back room where they put him in on oxygen. I was faced with a decision to TRY to hospitalize him for days and see if it helps or put him down. I decided to allow him to not suffer anymore. However, I’m feeling the guilt of, was he even that bad? Is he mad at me? Did I spend enough time with him before I said goodbye?

    Your book is inspiring and I will continue to read it over and over again and look for more signs from my baby. I know he’s still with me, just want to hold him once more.

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