How do you cope with tortoise loss?

tmp3

New Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2020
Messages
1
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Sorry for a depressing post, but I would like to know how others cope with their tortoise loss.

I live in Southern California. The desert tortoise was in my family for 50 years. Different generations took care of the tortoise, and it was my mom's turn to take care of him. (The tortoise was a male.) My mom and I fed the tortoise with lettuce and strawberries and apples. My dad built the shelter for him. The shelter had a ramp (leveled by the bricks) that connected the outside to the interior (lots of sand and cool place) within the plastic trash can with heavy, black covering on the top of the can. The tortoise was adventurous as it would always climb up on the wall and walk around. Our backyard's enclosed by stone walls.

Yesterday was a tragic accident. My mom and I just saw that the tortoise was lying upside down during a hot day. Dehydrated. We felt so bad and guilty that we did not go outside and regularly check on the tortoise. We did check on the tortoise every day by re-filling the bowls with food, but today was just an unlucky day. My mom cried a lot. We felt guilty that we let the tortoise die alone - that we could not imagine what it was like for the tortoise to suffer, lying upside down and dealing with the heat. I could imagine that it was internally screaming as it tried to survive. We think the tortoise was trying to climb into the shelter, but it just fell off the ramp or the bricks. Something that the tortoise slipped off and it got flipped upside down. Mom noticed that the ramp had a lot of scratches as if the tortoise was trying to stand on its own. We just don't know what happened.

We cleaned our tortoise and gave the dead body to the cremation. It was a hard moment for us. I'm feeling sad that my future children won't be able to inherit the tortoise. And that although the tortoise could've lived more than 50 years, I wish the tortoise could live a bit longer and enjoy life in our care. I wish I could go back in time and prevent the tragic accident.

I was wondering if anyone has had experienced with the similar situation (seeing the tortoise lay upside down by accident)? And how did they cope with the tortoise loss while mitigating their guilt?

It would help me and my family process this accident and accept the loss.
 

ErinH

Member
Joined
May 12, 2020
Messages
43
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento California
Omg I'm so so sorry.

I don't have the best words of wisdom, but am also curious about others' answers. I lost my 18 year old pot bellied pig in February and guilt has been such a huge part of my grieving process, as his death in my mind should have been preventable. I wonder if it ever gets better.

It has been helpful for me to remind myself of everything that came before that last day...because that last day was horrific and all consuming. There was so much more to these animal's lives than their last day. He sounded like a very happy and content tortoise for a long time! There are so many animals who don't get that chance.

It's also helpful to talk to yourself like you would your best friend. You wouldn't blame them or call them horrible for an accident. You'd remind them of the good life and all the love they gave their pet.

Realize you can't change what happened. But the worst things that happen to us make us stronger and wiser and more aware for the future. I know that isn't consolation, but it's probably something you won't be able to give yourself credit for anytime soon.

Accidents happen. But they don't make you a bad person. I'm so sorry for your loss and I know how you feel and it's really really not fun. Sending all kinds of love you and your family's way.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
86,010
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
I too have lost tortoises (yes, more than one) to being on its back in the hot sun. It's a terrible feeling. But you must let it go and try to not dwell on the "what ifs".
 

saleena.lewis

Active Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
178
Location (City and/or State)
Massachusetts
Sorry for a depressing post, but I would like to know how others cope with their tortoise loss.

I live in Southern California. The desert tortoise was in my family for 50 years. Different generations took care of the tortoise, and it was my mom's turn to take care of him. (The tortoise was a male.) My mom and I fed the tortoise with lettuce and strawberries and apples. My dad built the shelter for him. The shelter had a ramp (leveled by the bricks) that connected the outside to the interior (lots of sand and cool place) within the plastic trash can with heavy, black covering on the top of the can. The tortoise was adventurous as it would always climb up on the wall and walk around. Our backyard's enclosed by stone walls.

Yesterday was a tragic accident. My mom and I just saw that the tortoise was lying upside down during a hot day. Dehydrated. We felt so bad and guilty that we did not go outside and regularly check on the tortoise. We did check on the tortoise every day by re-filling the bowls with food, but today was just an unlucky day. My mom cried a lot. We felt guilty that we let the tortoise die alone - that we could not imagine what it was like for the tortoise to suffer, lying upside down and dealing with the heat. I could imagine that it was internally screaming as it tried to survive. We think the tortoise was trying to climb into the shelter, but it just fell off the ramp or the bricks. Something that the tortoise slipped off and it got flipped upside down. Mom noticed that the ramp had a lot of scratches as if the tortoise was trying to stand on its own. We just don't know what happened.

We cleaned our tortoise and gave the dead body to the cremation. It was a hard moment for us. I'm feeling sad that my future children won't be able to inherit the tortoise. And that although the tortoise could've lived more than 50 years, I wish the tortoise could live a bit longer and enjoy life in our care. I wish I could go back in time and prevent the tragic accident.

I was wondering if anyone has had experienced with the similar situation (seeing the tortoise lay upside down by accident)? And how did they cope with the tortoise loss while mitigating their guilt?

It would help me and my family process this accident and accept the loss.
I truly don't talk about my previous accidents because they are really sad but here's my story and how i coped with it---

One year on christmas I got a pet russian tortoise (horsefield tort) I did months of research and he had this HUGE wooden tortoise table. I was 10 years old and this was my very first tortoise. He was kept in another room of my house at the time but the door was left open... at the time I had an akita (a large dog) and sadly the dog got into the cage and tried to play with my tortoise named Charlie. Charlie the tort was pretty badly injured so we rushed him right away to an exotic vet with me sobbing. He had 2 surgeries, Antibiotics, Cream, A feeding tube and he had to get fed and given water through the tube throughout the whole day and night. My grampa even built him a smaller cage so he could get around easier. About a week after the "accident" he was starting to do better and he was eating greens again, we thought he was going to heal but 8 days after was when we had to put him down because the wounds got infected. He was cremated and I still to this day have his ashes on my desk. To cope I mourned for a long time but I realized that I need someone to help me so, I got a redfoot tortoise, the one I have now.
 

ErinH

Member
Joined
May 12, 2020
Messages
43
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento California
[tcope I mourned for a long time but I realized that I need someone to help me so, I got a redfoot tortoise, the one I have now.
[/QUOTE]
To cope I mourned for a long time but I realized that I need someone to help me so, I got a redfoot tortoise, the one I have now.
This is part of the reason I decided to get a new pet, too. At first I swore I never would again, but having something(one) else to focus on and take care of has helped a lot.
 

saleena.lewis

Active Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
178
Location (City and/or State)
Massachusetts
[tcope I mourned for a long time but I realized that I need someone to help me so, I got a redfoot tortoise, the one I have now.

This is part of the reason I decided to get a new pet, too. At first I swore I never would again, but having something(one) else to focus on and take care of has helped a lot.
[/QUOTE]
I also told myself that I didn't want to get another tortoise because I felt so guilty but my new tortoise really helped me cope with my loss from way back in the past. I was in no way shape of form replacing my old tortoise which I feel like gets confused with getting a new pet after a loss but Pheonix really helped me emotionally.
 

turtlebean

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
179
Location (City and/or State)
Connecticut
Wow, I’m so sorry for your loss. Don’t let yourself hold in the guilt and the what if’s, it’ll only make things more difficult for yourself and it seemed like this was an honest to god mistake. One way to cope may be to think of the beautiful life you gave your tortoise and all the good times you all shared together.
 

Jacqui

Wanna be raiser of Lemon Drop tortoises
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 28, 2007
Messages
39,320
Location (City and/or State)
A Land Far Away...
Each loss is a bit different, but you really don't want to be around me then. For some I plant memorial plants. For some it helps to bury them in their special spots.

The last couple of years I lost several long term dogs (plus 15 yrs). I just recently brought new puppies into the family. So sometimes, replacement helps, though you never can replace.
 

ErinH

Member
Joined
May 12, 2020
Messages
43
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento California
This is part of the reason I decided to get a new pet, too. At first I swore I never would again, but having something(one) else to focus on and take care of has helped a lot.
I also told myself that I didn't want to get another tortoise because I felt so guilty but my new tortoise really helped me cope with my loss from way back in the past. I was in no way shape of form replacing my old tortoise which I feel like gets confused with getting a new pet after a loss but Pheonix really helped me emotionally.
[/QUOTE]

Yes exactly! My idle caretaking brain just kept landing on the guilt (it still does) but giving it a different focus helps push the guilt away a little bit. I've learned that being sad is something I can deal with so much better than constant guilt and regret.
 

Mrs.Jennifer

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
Norwich CT
I am a new poster here. I usually just read posts to learn more about caring for my Russian tortoise, however, I have some experience with deep pet loss...

I was a Montessori teacher for 22 years. At one point I got a golden retriever puppy, Margaux and brought her to school every day. She was a beautiful, calming influence on my classroom and was seen as a fellow classmate to my students. I had to have her euthanized quite suddenly because her symptoms of advanced lung cancer presented quickly (within a couple of days) and there was no palliative treatment available. I was gutted and the children felt like they had lost a classmate. However, after a month, the children wanted to know when they would be getting a new class dog. I couldn't believe that they could even consider such a thing with the loss still being so raw.

This is what my students taught me:

1) You can grieve deeply and still look to the future.
2) You can feel deep loss and none should expect you to be "done" in any subscribed amount of time.
3) Guilt does not serve anyone.
4) Most importantly--grief and joy can sit side-by-side. One will not detract or diminish the other.

We all do the best we can. We are human. I hope you can find peace with your situation.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
22,445
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
I have a place in my back yard that is a grave yard for a few birds. A few fish. Two prairie dogs and one tortoise.
I get a strong sense of responsibility for my tortoises. (Not like the outright affection I have for my dog) But I wouldn't just toss a dead tortoise into the garbage.
The tortoise in my yard died in an incubator. So it was tiny.
Any animal that dies in my care is treated with respect. Inexpensively.
 

lxsnmls

New Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Palmdale
I am SO very sorry for the tragic loss of your beloved family member :( I think the DT on it's back in the sun scenario is the biggest fear we DT custodians/guardians have because IT CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME no matter how much we try to prevent (which must include doing everything humanly possible). Still, I can understand how it must haunt you and would feel the same way... I had a small taste of it when a couple of months ago I (luckily, praise the lord) I caught my newly acquired DT on it's back before it was too late. Just try and comfort yourself with the fact that he'd had a wonderful 50 years... I believe their lifespan is calculated at 50-80 years so he did pretty well ;-) My heart goes out to you....
 

William Lee Kohler

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
597
Location (City and/or State)
Eugene, OR
Sorry for a depressing post, but I would like to know how others cope with their tortoise loss.

I live in Southern California. The desert tortoise was in my family for 50 years. Different generations took care of the tortoise, and it was my mom's turn to take care of him. (The tortoise was a male.) My mom and I fed the tortoise with lettuce and strawberries and apples. My dad built the shelter for him. The shelter had a ramp (leveled by the bricks) that connected the outside to the interior (lots of sand and cool place) within the plastic trash can with heavy, black covering on the top of the can. The tortoise was adventurous as it would always climb up on the wall and walk around. Our backyard's enclosed by stone walls.

Yesterday was a tragic accident. My mom and I just saw that the tortoise was lying upside down during a hot day. Dehydrated. We felt so bad and guilty that we did not go outside and regularly check on the tortoise. We did check on the tortoise every day by re-filling the bowls with food, but today was just an unlucky day. My mom cried a lot. We felt guilty that we let the tortoise die alone - that we could not imagine what it was like for the tortoise to suffer, lying upside down and dealing with the heat. I could imagine that it was internally screaming as it tried to survive. We think the tortoise was trying to climb into the shelter, but it just fell off the ramp or the bricks. Something that the tortoise slipped off and it got flipped upside down. Mom noticed that the ramp had a lot of scratches as if the tortoise was trying to stand on its own. We just don't know what happened.

We cleaned our tortoise and gave the dead body to the cremation. It was a hard moment for us. I'm feeling sad that my future children won't be able to inherit the tortoise. And that although the tortoise could've lived more than 50 years, I wish the tortoise could live a bit longer and enjoy life in our care. I wish I could go back in time and prevent the tragic accident.

I was wondering if anyone has had experienced with the similar situation (seeing the tortoise lay upside down by accident)? And how did they cope with the tortoise loss while mitigating their guilt?

It would help me and my family process this accident and accept the loss.
I can't believe you didn't bury him in the earth where his kind normally live!
 

Ink

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jun 10, 2016
Messages
550
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Maybe when you and your family are ready, you could adopt a tortoise. Help give a new to you tortoise a happy life. I am sorry for your loss. I have lost too..
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
50,388
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Here is what I do to cope: Learn from it.

I study what went wrong exhaustively. Necropsy if need be. Phone calls to other tortoise keepers, etc... Then, once I know what went wrong, I try to share the info with others to prevent senseless tragic losses. I make it my mission to teach as many people as I can what mistakes are typically made and how to avoid them. Things like don't feed fruit to a DT, and don't keep them on sand. Don't have ramps and rock piles that they can climb and flip on.

This gives me some comfort when I know that there are tortoises out in the world that were heading for disaster, and my words helped to prevent it.
 

New Posts

Top