If the loss of a pet was due to veterinarian negligence, you’re furious. These tips for dealing with anger at the vet after a pet’s death are inspired by a reader who lost her dog.
It’s important to know that anger doesn’t vanish overnight, and there are no “quick tips” for dealing with angry feelings after pet loss. I recommend reading books like The Gift of Anger: Seven Steps to Uncover the Meaning of Anger and Gain Awareness, True Strength, and Peace by Marcia Cannon, because dealing with anger is a process that takes time and effort. Learn how to turn your anger into a gift, and affect the world in positive ways.
The loss of a pet is traumatizing and heartbreaking. The grieving process is complicated when anger is part of the equation – especially if the veterinarian made mistakes that cost your pet’s life. It’s difficult to deal with angry feelings, but working through them is the only way to be free — and to remember your pet with peace and joy.
Tips for Dealing With Anger at the Veterinarian
I wrote Letting Go of an Animal You Love to help people cope with pet loss. One of my readers emailed me to ask for tips on dealing with anger at the veterinarian. As I said, there are no easy answers – but I hope the following suggestions help.
Learn how to be angry to the right degree, in the right way. When a veterinarian causes a pet’s death, you have every right to be angry! But it’s important to express your angry in a healthy way. Aristotle said, “Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” What does it mean to be angry at the veterinarian to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose? Perhaps it means accepting that the veterinarian made a mistake that caused your pet’s death, and not writing a letter to the licensing board.
Contact the veterinarian board. This first tip for dealing with anger after the loss of a pet is from the reader herself. She asked if she should write a letter to the state’s veterinarian board, and describe the situation. I think this is a good way to deal with anger because it could potentially save other people from experiencing pet loss at the hands of this veterinarian. Even if the vet doesn’t lose her license to practice medicine, it’s still a cathartic experience.
Write a letter (or email) to the veterinarian. Take at least 15 minutes, and write your veterinarian a letter. Tell her how angry you are, and how you’re dealing with anger at the loss of your pet. Describe the circumstances from your point of view. Tell her how awful she is, and how much you wish you had never laid eyes on her.
Don’t send the letter until tomorrow. Never send a letter when you’re upset – it’s definitely not one of the best tips for dealing with anger at a veterinarian for causing the loss of a pet! There is nothing wrong with sharing how you feel about how the vet handled your dog or cat. But, make sure you temper how you express your feelings. I suggest you ask an objective third part to read the letter, and make sure you haven’t gone overboard.
Consider contacting the manufacturing company if your pet died from a medication. In Is Trifexis a Good Flea Treatment for Dogs?, I share a reader’s story of how she lost her dog because of the flea medication the veterinarian prescribed. This reader – Julie Anne – was angry at both the veterinarian and the manufacturing company. Her way of dealing with her anger at the veterinarian over the loss of her pet was to share her story with as many people as possible – including the manufacturing company who makes Trifexis.
Know that the veterinarian did not deliberately cause your pet’s death. I don’t know the exact circumstances of the pet loss you experienced, and I don’t know the vet’s perspective of your pet’s death. I can’t assure you that your veterinarian did everything right. But, I do believe that veterinarians sincerely love and want to heal animals, and that they do not deliberately set out to cause pets pain. What do you think – how does your veterinarian feel about the loss of your pet? Is it possible to put yourself in her shoes for a few moments? I’m not saying the veterinarian made the right decisions…but it may help you deal with anger at the vet if you try to see the situation from her perspective. It’s not about absolving the veterinarian, it’s about freeing yourself from anger at the loss of your pet.
Learn how to forgive. This is the most important tip for dealing with anger at the veterinarian: forgive her for causing the loss of a pet. Forgive her. Forgiveness brings freedom, light, and peace. Forgiveness will set you free, just like Jesus said. “Anger is like flowing water; there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you let it flow,” says C. JoyBell C., author of The Sun is Snowing. “Hate is like stagnant water…Stagnant water becomes dirty, stinky, disease-ridden, poisonous, deadly; that is your hate. On flowing water travels little paper boats; paper boats of forgiveness. Allow yourself to feel anger, allow your waters to flow, along with all the paper boats of forgiveness. Be human.”
Deal with your feelings of guilt about the loss of your pet. Sometimes we think we made a mistake when we chose certain veterinarians, or followed their advice, or ignored our own gut feelings about the vet’s recommendations for our pets. One way to deal with anger at the veterinarian is to work through our own feelings of guilt after the loss of a pet.
Trust that God is in control. It may be easier to forgive a veterinarian for causing the loss of a pet if you believe that your Creator is taking care of you, loves you, and is working all things together for your good. This is how I’ve forgiven everything from abuse to neglect! I don’t want to live in anger or bitterness – I want to be free and happy – so I try to live and breathe the peace of God in everything I do. Of course, this is easier said than done….but even if I’m only successful 50% of the time, then I’m “only” peaceful and happy for half my day.
Here is my prayer for all who suffered the loss of a pet and feel angry at the veterinarian: May you find peace. May God be with you as you grieve your loss, and deal with anger at the vet. May forgiveness come easy and wash you clean of bitterness, hatred, and regret. May you remember your beloved pet with peace and joy, and look beyond the painful circumstances of death. I pray that you connect with the only source of peace that we know, and that you rest easy today. Amen.
If you’re ready to move forward, read 7 Beautiful Pet Memorials – Say Good-Bye With Love.
I welcome your thoughts on these tips for dealing with anger at the loss of your pet.