Bargaining During Grief
“Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.” ~ Unknown
Bargaining is the stage of negotiation and it serves a significant role in the grief journey. It allows the pet-parent to briefly divert from the heartache in an attempt to manipulate the situation, allowing themselves time to adjust to the reality of their loss.
*Nancy’s cat Piper was showing signs of being lethargic, her interest in her food and playing with her toys had significantly decreased over the past week. Piper had a history of stomach issues, but with change of food, a watchful eye and medication, Nancy has been able to keep it under control. She believed this time would be no different. However, as the week progressed, Piper’s health was rapidly deteriorating. Nancy rushed Piper to the vet. Sadly, the prognosis was not favourable and Nancy was faced with the unexpected and difficult decision to euthanize Piper. In time, Nancy found herself going from denial into anger and then into bargaining accompanied by an intense guilt. “What if I would have brought her in sooner, maybe she would still be alive.” “Please forgive me Piper, I promise to be a better future pet-parent.” “What have I done, I should have known better, seen the signs sooner, insisted on a second opinion first! I failed her.”
These are all normal and to be expected responses to the pet loss grief journey. The stages of grief although understood and predictable are never linear or easy to navigate, especially alone. The act of bargaining allows a grieving person time to adjust to their new found loss and acts as a way to protect their fragile selves from the reality they are faced with. To bargain and to blame are acceptable responses to a difficult time, however one must resist the urge to get “stuck” in this stage. Once the pet-parent realizes that the bargaining is proving fruitless, they will begin to relent and find themselves in the throes of depression. Once within this stage the healing process can truly begin. You will face your loss head on and grieve, without the deference of guilt. In times of intense grief your mind will wrestle with the new reality before you give yourself permission do so. Hope is an admirable and strong opponent.
In time, a small light, a glimmer of hope does begin to shine through the darkness and you slowly begin to rise above denial, anger, bargaining, deep sadness, finding resolve and acceptance. It does not mean that you will not miss your pet - you always will. That is okay, for the tears you then weep are just a reminder of how much you loved your pet.
With patience, compassion and understanding I am here to help you because I truly care.
*The above is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, places, events and incidents in the story are either the product of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.