You know as well as I do that dealing with the death of our beloved furbaby is tough at the best of times. How much more heartwrenching must it be if your furbaby dies violently? Being hit by a car is a violent and sudden death, but even more shocking than that is the incidence of small animals, like cats and small dogs, who are violently killed by other larger dogs or wild animals, or even the worst kind of animal of all—humans.
Sometimes our capacity for cruelty leaves me in a state of shock. I am also sadly surprised at how many of our my friends on our Facebook pages(Dogs Remembered Forever and Cats Remembered Forever) have commented about their furbaby being killed by another animal. It’s this kind of violence that I want to talk about here.
Signs of trauma
Some of you have experienced your furbaby violently killed by another animal or human. Some of you have even witnessed the attack in progress, unable to help. Whatever the case, you have suffered a severe trauma.
This is important—you have suffered a trauma. This is commonly known as PTSD—post traumatic stress syndrome. The symptoms of PTSD may occur immediately, or after a few days, or even after a few weeks or months. Nevertheless, there are certain signs you need to look out for. Four main indicators are:
- Re-living the traumatic event – The person relives the event through unwanted and recurring memories, often in the form of vivid images and nightmares. There may be intense emotional or physical reactions, such as sweating, heart palpitations or panic when reminded of the event.
- Being overly alert or wound up – The person experiences sleeping difficulties, irritability and lack of concentration, becoming easily startled and constantly on the lookout for signs of danger.
- Avoiding reminders of the event – The person deliberately avoids activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with the event because they bring back painful memories.
- Feeling emotionally numb – The person loses interest in day-to-day activities, feels cut off and detached from friends and family, or feels emotionally flat and numb.
If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, I strongly suggest you see a professional counselor or psychologist to help you through it. You must take this trauma seriously.
How to heal
Now, the difficulty with this type of death is not only its violence but its suddenness. If we have chosen to think that ‘this will never happen to my pet’, and we are unprepared for the shock, we can become overwhelmed by our own emotions.
We can never know how or when any of us will die, including our pets, so we have two options: (1) pretend they never will, or (2) accept that they will and be prepared.
So how do we prepare? The following methods I’m suggesting are a significant factor in healing from the trauma of a violent death, from the shock of a sudden death, or in fact any kind of death of the furbaby you love.
Well, if you’re a meditator, you’re in a good position to meditate on death and impermanence, and how you would want to handle things when your pet dies.
If you’re not a meditator, you can still imagine the scenario. That is not to say you have to become morbidly obsessed with thoughts of your pet being hit by a car or mauled by another animal or human, but in your quiet moments, you can talk yourself through the possibility and how you might like to handle it.
What you can do
1. Find a burial partner
If your furbaby has been mauled, it may be too traumatic for you to bury the body yourself. In this case, ask someone to help you to do this. It could be someone who lives in the house with you, or a neighbor, or you can call a friend to come over (if they are close by) to help you. If you’re up to it though, you don’t have to bury your furbaby straight away. The spirit may not even have left the body yet. Instead, wrap your furbaby in a blanket, face exposed if possible, tell him/her how much you love them, wish them freedom from fear and pain. Which brings me to #2.
2. Recite Prayers/Mantras
In a quiet and dimly lit space, in a soft voice, with utmost concentration and love, recite your chosen prayer. I have some beautiful suggestions on my web page. Have no doubt, your prayers WILL reach your furbaby and will HELP them.
3. Ask for support from family and friends
If you want to take your pet to a vet just in case you think your furbaby’s life can be saved, try to find someone else to drive if possible, so that you can sit and quietly comfort your pet in the same way you would at home. If you have to drive, I would put my pet in a blanket on my lap, as above, and keep one hand on him as much as possible, without endangering yourself or others on the road.
4. Taking legal action—should you do it?
Harming an animal is against the law in most places. Even if your furbaby is killed by another animal, the human owner of that animal will be held responsible. If you feel that taking legal action for some kind of compensation or punishment will help you to heal, then you should consider it. But if you don’t think it will make big difference to your healing, if you think it will add stress or just drag the pain on further, then don’t feel obliged to take legal action. Remember, whether or not you take legal action means absolutely nothing to your furbaby. It’s really about you and the difference it will make to your moving forward.
In this, as always, you need to be conscious of your own wellbeing and healing, and what will enhance or hinder that.
Personal healing is possible
Healing is possible, even from the most terrible of experiences. Whatever kind of death your furbaby experienced, know that they are happy and at peace now, and that their death experience was merely a moment in time. Although your memories or your mental replays may repeat themselves over and over, the ACTUAL experience was brief and is gone. Your furbaby will neither remember it nor be in any kind of pain.
So please, take comfort in this and please, look after yourself. BJ xx
About the Author: BJ Burman
BJ Burman is a writer, researcher, healer, advisor and teacher. All through her childhood and adult life, she has shared her life with animals, every one of them dearly loved. She is also a passionate supporter of animal rights and animal conservation.
In addition, BJ has always been interested in spirituality and religion, both academically and personally. When she became personally involved in Eastern philosophy and religion, she became specifically interested in death & dying (and what really happens to us).
Over the years, she has studied and researched the subject of death & dying, and the associated grief, particularly from a spiritual perspective, under the guidance of respected Buddhist, Hindu and Christian teachers from the USA, Britain and Australia. These great traditions, have so much to teach on the reality of life and death.
BJ has worked in the education sector for nearly 20 years, as a teacher (particularly in a pastoral care role) of adolescents and adults, helping them to not only navigate their path in education, but also navigate their way through personal life obstacles for the happiest outcomes.
Bj holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, a Graduate Diploma of Teaching, Graduate qualifications in Linguistics/TESOL, Masters in Comparative World Religions and is a published author for national and international magazine print publications in the field of health and well-being.
It seems only natural to her to combine her love of animals with her interest in death & dying to create a genuinely compassionate and supportive forum for humans who must say good-bye to the animals they love so much.
It is BJ's deep desire to provide guidance and comfort for humans to help their beloved animals live and die in peace.