*Content warning: Pet deaths*

Pets are like family, especially when they've been with you for a very long time. When they die, it can be an emotionally devastating experience for the people who loved them.

The remorse is such that many have called for an amendment to work policies that allow people to take bereavement leave in the event they lose a pet.

Losing a pet hurts enough, but what if you happened to be the reason why they died, even if only by accident? People shared their stories with us after Redditor Yanze326 asked the online community,

"People who killed their pets on accident how did you cope with the guilt?"

"I stepped on our pet bird..."

"I stepped on our pet bird when I was very young. She was small, and out and about in the living room. My mom accused me of lying about how the bird died. I don't know how I coped with it."

blinddivine

We're sorry about your pet's death and even sorrier that you were accused of something so horrible by a parent.

"Suddenly..."

"I was out working in the yard. I came in to grab a drink. I had a 40 gallon freshwater aquarium tank with about 15-20 African Cichlids in it. I saw a plant uprooted from the gravel. I put my hand in and fixed it. I walk by the tank 20 minutes later and they are not doing good."

"I lost all of the fish that day. I had a separate nursery tank that had 18-20 or so young fish in it which helped. I did a water change, changed filters, cleaned the tank. I call a fish friend who helped me set up the tank 10 years before. She was stumped on how the whole tank died in 1/2 a day."

"I had no idea what happened til maybe a year later when I was looking at how much weed killer to mix in the 1 gallon sprayer. I read the label that said - do not spray around ponds with ornamental fish."

"Suddenly the light bulb went off that I must have had some residue on my hand and put it in the tank. I felt horrible but at least I figured out what I did."

Chum731

Condolences. Now you know though, and knowing is half the battle.

"I rescued a small bird..."

"I rescued a small bird when I was 17. He used to follow me around the house. One day I was wearing heels and didn't see he was walking behind me. My friend took him and put him out of his misery."

Forgotmyusername85

Oh no! Condolences. You couldn't have known.

"I talk to her..."

"I still have traumatic flashbacks at weird times. I’m 30 now. When I was 18, I got in the car on a rainy day and started backing out of our garage. My mom comes through the garage door and started screaming for me to stop. I had backed over one of our dogs, Cleo. She died in my arms as I screamed and cried."

"The guilt was immeasurable. And I honestly still have trouble with it sometimes when I go down the dark rabbit hole of reliving the trauma. I still hear my parents saying it wasn’t my fault (the dog was hiding under the car). They repeatedly said that the dog knew how much I loved her and I spent more time with her than anyone else in the family."

"I talk to her and tell her I miss her and love her. And I’m extra careful now with pets, though I suppose not always to a healthy degree. I just try to see everything that could go wrong in a situation and prevent it."

"Coping with the guilt has gotten easier with time, but I honestly can’t remember that day without feeling the regret and pain again. I can only tell myself that I loved Cleo so much and it was a terrible, tragic accident."

HurtMyKnee_Granger

We're so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you and your parents did/have done everything possible to make it less horrible.

"I cried hard."

"I cried hard. It was a sweet little baby kitten that had gotten under a blanket and I didn't see it early in the morning. I literally cried for hours and hours on end. But I ended up fostering four kittens to help with the guilt. It did but I still feel guilty four years later."

starswillstillshine

We're so sorry. You did a wonderful thing fostering those other kittens!

"I really did try..."

"I killed so many fish as a pre teen that I had actual stress dreams about it. I finally got rid of the tank all together. Now as an a adult I refuse to own a fish tank. If I ever have kids they will never own fish tanks."

"I really did try to take care of them but I was just not good at it or had terrible luck."

Main-Yogurtclass82

Fish take a lot more effort than people think. It can be tough, and quickly gets expensive between all the equipment, water treating chemicals, and medicines.

"When I was about 5 or 6, I had some hermit crabs. I loved animals, but I was way too young to be solely responsible for a pet, and I kept forgetting to feed them."

"I'm 40 now and I still feel a lot of guilt over that. I try to make up for it by giving my guinea pigs all the love (and food - they won't let you forget that) I have and make sure that their lives are as happy as possible."

Throne-Eins

Hermit crabs are notoriously tricky to care for as well. There's no way you would have been able to do it right at that age.

"At about 1 year in..."

"My first individual pet was an albino hamster I named Mew, I was 10. I spent ALL my kid money on that fat little ball of love; wheels, tunnels, those out of the cage rolly-balls, more bedding than he'd ever need."

"At about 1 year in I came back from school one day and he had passed, and I felt terrible seeing his empty water bottle. It slipped my mind somehow, likely that weekend prior when we went to dad's for the weekend."

"I found a small box, gave him a proper burial in the woods outside the apartment complex, and bought a 4-inch marigold to pant on top of his box. My little 10 year old heart was broken, I went from an independent little preteen to a baby who slept in mom's bed for a week."

"In good kid fashion I started to cheer up after that, and my mom certainly helped by surprising me with another pet; a guinea pig, also albino. I named him Mew"two" (I was sooo sly haha), and he lived a long 7 years, had 2 litters of 4 with a missus (because I thought she was a male lol whoops), and naturally died of old age when I was about 17."

Phantasmai

You sound like a good soul! Mewtwo definitely lived a long and healthy life after the untimely death of his predecessor.

"I took my dog..."

"I took my dog to be spayed and she died mid-surgery. To this day I feel guilty. I remember when I dropped her off at the vet she was crying and trying to go out with me, but I left her there and went to work. I feel like I practically took her to die!"

Gizza_

Condolences.

General anaesthesia always carries a risk that everyone takes way too lightly. Don't beat yourself up over it. Getting spayed is the responsible thing to do to a dog, and you couldn't possibly have known.

The trauma of losing a pet is very real. If you have lost one in an unfortunate accident, don't beat yourself up over it. An accident is just that: an accident. Time and therapy and will help you be kinder to yourself.

If you have some stories of your own, you may share them with us in the comments below.

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