One of the hardest aspects of choosing to live your life with a special animal companion is facing the inevitability of losing them.
A pet’s life span is short-way too short- and preparing for such loss can be a daunting task.
There are many ways of losing a pet-traumatically, through terminal illness, via humane euthanasia or missing never to be found-each of them tragic for the owner. The good news is pets don’t worry about death and dying living life fully in the moment. For our pets the most important aspect of dying is being able to die with the dignity with which they lived their lives.
When is the right time?
Only you and your pet will know this. Don’t worry about what well meaning friends and family members say. This is a personal decision and depends on many factors. As long as your pet is clean, pain free and comfortable they should be allowed to live life gracefully until the end. They will also help you know when.
Signs they are getting close are:
- Decreased sociability
- Increased agitation and restlessness -they have a hard time getting comfortable
- Sleepy and drowsiness increases and they become muddled when awake
- Irregular breathing
- Appetite diminishes
Your pet should still be eating, drinking and still responding to you daily
Things you should prepare for a peaceful passing:
- Calmness and acceptance need to be a part of your pet’s gentle dying
- Where would you and your pet be most comfortable-you may need to plan a day or two ahead for home call euthanasia
- Consider the senses-aromatherapy such as rose oil, vanilla bean, lemon and chamomile all help ease distress and in many cultures it is said sandalwood helps the spirit to depart the body
- Consider some peaceful music, surround them with their most treasured toy or blanket and a special candle to light the way-vanilla bean and sandalwood are good choices
- Think about what you would like to happen afterwards and investigate your options
Just so you know:
Death is an inevitable part of life however most of us shy away from dealing with it then become stunned when the inevitable finally happens. We are left feeling alone with no one to understand and share our terrible loss. There are always two parties to death; the one we lose and the survivors who are left behind.
The relationship between pet and owner is deeply personal. Interestingly; much more so than with other close family members or friends. It shouldn’t be so surprising then that the grief which follows the death of a pet hits owners incredibly hard yet often -due to the popular belief ‘it was only a pet and you can get another one’ – it remains tightly locked away.
We know grief properly expressed is grief we can live with; grief that is suppressed is grief that will rise up and haunt us, surprise us and shape our lives in ways we cannot control. That said it is of the utmost importance to grieve for our four legged friends properly and this takes help, support and understanding from our nearest and dearest in order to help us, the one left behind, move on with life. Here are some tips and services which may help with this important part of pet ownership.
Services that may help:
- House Call Euthanasia – Dr Gina Voglar
- Simply Reiki-Melinda McCarthy
- Veterinary Hospice-information on helping pets through the last months
- Pets @ Rest –cremation services with memorial products
- Pet Cemetery at Pet Funeral Services
- Pet Loss and Grief Counselling: Kathy at Pet Loss Grief Support
- Val Hayes Registered Psychotherapist & Counsellor T: 021 292 1035