Maybe you were in a rush and didn’t see. Perhaps it appeared out of nowhere and you had no time to hit the breaks. Whatever the reason, now you’re left with this dull, numb feeling inside that you just can’t seem to get rid of.
Running over an animal, whether a dog, cat, fox or duck, is a common scenario. For most people, it’s a situation they struggle to deal with for days, if not weeks, afterwards. Some even seek therapy to come to terms with the situation.
If you can’t seem to move on after accidentally killing a pet or wild animal, here are some helpful tips to help you move forward with your life – and past the anguish.
Embrace the Guilt
Shed some tears, embrace the pain, and acknowledge that you feel guilty. There’s no point hiding from it. It’ll only chase you later down the line. In order to recover from the pain you feel, it’s best to embrace and acknowledge it as soon as possible after the incident so you can heal and move on faster.
Remember that these things happen. Maybe it was your fault, maybe it wasn’t. Either way, there’s no point in hiding from your pain. Embrace it, express it, and eventually, that pain will start to subside.
In order to heal from death, you need to pay attention to your emotions. You need to stay present and feel every emotion you’re feeling so you can eventually move on from it. It isn’t until you acknowledge what you’ve done that you can truly forgive yourself and move forward with your life.
Wondering how to forgive yourself for accidentally killing a pet? I’ve never done it, so I can’t feel exactly what you’re feeling. That said, I have lost a pet before, and I know how painful it is to lose something special in your life. Everybody feels guilty for something or other. Even I did and I was an amazing owner.
Now that you’ve embraced and acknowledged your guilt, it’s time to be sympathetic with yourself and learn to forgive yourself for what’s happened. It’ll be hard, but at the end of the day, you need to realize that you’re human. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect.
Tell yourself that it was a mistake, that you didn’t intend to hurt him, and that you deserve forgiveness. People run over animals every day. It’s heartbreaking, I know. But it’s a part of life, and you don’t need to lose out on life because of one bad mistake. All you can do is learn from it, drive with extra sharp eyes next time, and hope it doesn’t happen again.
Forgive yourself. You deserve forgiveness.
Give Yourself Time to Heal
The best healer in life is time. You’ve probably heard that phrase before, but it couldn’t be more true. In order to move forward with your life and past the guilt you’re feeling over running over an animal, you need to give yourself time – and plenty of it.
Trust me, with each passing day, it will get easier. Maybe you’ll still feel some guilt and heartbreak over the event, but it will begin to fade. Everyone heals at different paces. Some might feel perfectly back to normal in a few days, while others may need weeks or even months to feel good again.
I know you probably feel like a bad person right now, but give yourself a break. You didn’t do it intentionally. If you could go back, you would change things if you could, right? I know you’re a good person and you absolutely didn’t mean for it to happen. Remember that, and remember that although you might not feel okay now, in another week or two things will feel better. And it should only get better with the passing weeks.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Channel your energy into doing something good in the world. A great way to heal is by helping out with a good cause, like volunteering at your local animal shelter. If you accidentally ran over an animal and you’re struggling to come to terms with it, give back to the animal community by lending a helping hand at a shelter.
Besides doing something good, you’ll enjoy spending time with the animals and knowing you’re actively helping them live a better, happier life. If you hit a cat, volunteer at a cat shelter. Or was it a dog? Try offering your support to a dog shelter. And if you ran over a wild animal, look for opportunities at a wildlife shelter. Working with the actual animal you hit will give you the best form of satisfaction.
Ask a friend or loved one to join you if you’re looking for support or don’t feel strong enough to do it alone. And try not to do it for just a few days. If you can, make it part of your life so you can give back and do something good in the world. You’ll be changing the lives of so many animals – and your own!
Donate to a Good Cause
Don’t have time to volunteer at a shelter? Donate to a shelter or animal welfare organization instead. Your money can help change lives. If you don’t have much to give, you could also try raising money for your favorite cause. Encourage others to donate, and bring attention to the issues affecting animals today.
You could even try to raise awareness on road safety for animals. Put your imagination to good use and start doing great things for animals. You could do a sponsored event like a walk, run, or something else that fits your skill set. Alternatively, post about it on social media and ask for donations. You could even make something and sell it, donating a certain percentage of the profits to a good cause.
Apologize to the Owner – and Offer Comfort
“I ran over an animal and feel terrible” is a common scenario and one that can leave drivers feeling awful about for days, weeks, and sometimes even months. It’s hard enough when you run over a wild animal, but when it’s someone’s pet you end up experiencing twice the amount of guilt – guilt for the animal that’s been hit and guilt for the owners who now have to deal with the trauma and heartbreak of losing a family pet. That’s tough!
Accidentally killing a pet is definitely a hard one to get over. The best way to deal with it is to acknowledge what you’ve done, embrace the guilt, and most important of all: inform and apologize to the owners.
Of course, it won’t always be possible to track down the owners. However, if you know the pet and you know who its owners are, it would be a good idea to let them know what’s happened. Use this opportunity to express your guilt, and apologize. It will be difficult, and they may be upset with you, but it’s the right thing to do. They’ll realize that you were the big person by actively informing them of the incident and apologizing for your mistake. While they may be angry or hurt at first, they will respect you for your apology.
If it makes you feel better, you could even offer to contribute towards a memorial for the pet or if you have the funds, offer to pay for it all. The owners may not have considered a memorial, but it’s a thoughtful way to remember their beloved pet and keep him fresh in their minds and hearts. I’m sure they’ll love the idea!
A great way to get over running over an animal is by focusing on self-care. At the moment, you might hate yourself for causing pain and possibly death to an innocent animal, but you shouldn’t deprive yourself of self-love. Everyone makes mistakes. While this one’s a bad one because you’ve caused harm to an animal, you need to remember that you didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident.
In the days after weeks following the accident, speed up the recovery process by practicing self-care. Self-care comes in many different forms, depending on your personal preferences. It could be losing yourself in a good book, enrolling in a yoga class, or enjoying some at-home meditation sessions. Even activities like cooking, sewing, and de-cluttering can be seen as acts of self-care as they improve your sense of wellbeing.
Think about what you love to do, what would make you feel happier in life, and what would improve your quality of life. For example, maybe you love swimming but you never have time to go to the baths. Make time! Perhaps your home is always messy and leaves you feeling frazzled. Tidy it up! All these things can make a huge impact on your mental health and overall life. And losing yourself in activities you love is a surefire way to move on from those negative past events.
Instead of going over the event again and again in your life, put that energy into something positive in your life. Thinking about the accident won’t bring him back, and it certainly won’t do your mind or health any favors. Channel your energy into activities that enhance your life instead, and believe me, it will pay off.
Write it All Down
Creating a journal can help you process your feelings, and make sense of everything. You don’t need to be a Hemingway or a Bronte. You just need to get down what you’re feeling inside, regardless of how good the actual writing is.
Journaling is a great way to express unfiltered thoughts and feelings. Write down everything you feel and any thoughts that pop into your mind. It’ll feel so much of a relief to get it all down on paper instead of just bottling it all up inside – which, by the way, is detrimental to your mind.
You don’t even need to read what you’ve written. The most important part of this activity is expressing yourself. Hate writing? Try sketching instead, or any other activity that allows you to express yourself fully – without any filters.
Talk to a Therapist
This might sound a little drastic, but it’s perfectly okay to reach out for professional help if you’re struggling with the aftermath of killing an animal. The purpose of therapy is to be able to fully express yourself, let out your emotions, and ultimately heal. If there’s no-one you can talk to to let out your grief, talk to a therapist instead. They’re there to listen, and help you move forward and live your best life. Take advantage of that help! Maybe you feel like you don’t deserve it, but you absolutely do! In fact, you should for the sake of living a better, happier life.
Running over an animal can be a traumatic experience, and if you’re not feeling better in the days or weeks that follow, it’s important to speak to a professional so you can let it all out and start the healing process.
Some people struggle more than others. You don’t need to feel weak or embarrassed over getting professional help. Think about it as you taking action for your own happiness. You’re taking control of your life and your emotions, and trying to resolve the issue – and that’s something you should feel proud about.