When we lose a canine companion, self-critical thoughts and feelings may become a part of our grief. We may disproportionally focus on our perceived failures and imperfections rather than view our actions as those of someone doing her or his best to stand by a canine loved one during painful circumstances. This is known as “moral pain,” and fortunately, there are things we can do to relieve it.

Will was distraught after his dog, Ray, died. Though Ray had been slowing down and sleeping more, Will had passed it off as normal, signs that his trusted buddy was simply getting older. By the time the vet diagnosed cancer, there was little that could be done.

Looking back, Will blamed himself for not getting Ray to the vet sooner—“He was counting on me and I let him down.”—and kicking himself for not being able to afford additional diagnostics, much less treatment. “I just…

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