DEAR ABBY: Our family dog recently passed away after a year-long decline. I had grown up with him. He had reached the point where he needed daily care for his body, even though his mind was 100 percent there. Near the end, things got very bad. I got only about four hours of broken sleep a night caring for him, and no one in the family would help me. During part of his daily care routine, he had a second accident all over the freshly cleaned floor. I lost it and hit him.
He's gone now, and I can barely live with myself. When I think about it, I get nauseated and dry-heave. I literally hate myself. In my book, exhaustion doesn't give anyone the right to do what I did. I'm old enough to know better. This makes me want to change my life plans and never have another pet or have children -- just in case. Am I right? -- LOWLIFE IN THE USA
DEAR "LOWLIFE": Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved furry friend. While what happened is regrettable, you are wrong to beat yourself up the way you are. There is something called "caregiver burnout," which I'm advising you to research. When caregivers are stressed and sleep-deprived, mental health advisers urge them to find respite care for their patient. Lack of sleep can cause people to react badly.
If your family had been more supportive and you had had proper rest, you probably would not have snapped. What happened does not mean you are doomed to repeat this with another pet or a child.