When I was young, I had a beagle named Pepper that I grew up with. My brother brought her home when I was 2 and we were inseparable until I was a freshman in high school. Pepper was 15 when my mother made the decision that it was time to have to let her go. I understood that she was old and had a lot of medical issues going on, but I thought my mother was so mean and cold to do that to her. I didn't understand the terrifying and heart wrenching responsibility that my mother had to Pepper. I learned that later on in my life.
In my line of work, with a heavy heart, I've sat with and held families when they've had to make that decision. It's not a light decision by any means. It can range from having a medical issue to a behavior issue that they've tried everything to fix but cannot. People have often asked me, how do you know if it's the right thing to do? That is hard to discern, because you have so many conflicting feelings going on. Am I doing the right thing? Have I really done all that I can? What if?? I tell people that all you need to do is listen to your heart. If your furry friend is suffering, then it's time. Many people keep holding on because they aren't ready. Which is totally understandable. But, you have to put yourself in your pets place. There is no need to continue suffering. That's an inhumane and selfish thing to allow. You are their voice and their caretakers. They rely on you to know when it's time to let them go. But as you do, please stay with them and comfort them while they go. Because they do look for you. There are places that offer grief counseling and support. One that I know of personally is at The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. They have a group that meets once a week. www.Anticruelty.org
Also, feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to be there for you and your beloved pets.