There is perhaps no time more difficult for an animal lover than to have to cope with the ending of their animal companion’s life. Sometimes this results from a long illness with a gradual or even sudden decline. At other times it can be a quick and sudden death. One of the statements I frequently hear, even from relative strangers, is “I can’t believe how hard this has been.”
It is the gift of unconditional love that our beloved animals bring to us. In today’s world that is not always an easy experience to find.
Perhaps the most challenging decision to make is that regarding euthanasia. Many people have said that they felt they waited too long in making that decision, thus causing their animal unnecessary suffering. Other people have felt they perhaps acted too soon.
Several vets have told me that they are able to look into an animal’s eyes and know by a certain look that they are ready to go. Likewise, some people have stated they have been able to see and know that readiness with their own animal companion.
However, for many animal lovers it is not such an easy decision or knowing. One of the things I can share with you is that an animal always knows when and if it is ready. Although they may look physically ready to go, they may not be. This is one of my most rewarding times to connect with an animal. They are very clear on expressing this. If they are not yet ready to cross they will always show me a sign that they will give their person when it is time for them.
For example, a friend’s cat, who was wasting away physically, needed time to connect with the sights, smells and warmth of the sun that she loved so dearly.
During our connection she told me she was not yet ready to cross. She gave me a clear sign showing how she would let her person know when it was time. She would simply place her paw on her friend’s hand. Within a couple of weeks her animal friend was ready. Arrangements for a vet to come to the home had been made. How wonderful that the angst of when to make that decision was resolved by her beloved animal friend.
We deal with grief in our own individual way. Yet grief is one of the emotions that binds humanity together. Sometimes a special ceremony, done with ourselves or one or more close friends, is a beautiful way to honor our animal companion. What is helpful is as unique and varied as are all of us.
There is a beautiful web site at www.rainbowbridge.com that offers numerous ideas and information. This includes a pet loss forum and chat room; a section on the decision to euthanize that includes what to tell children; information with biblical quotes on whether animals have souls; pet loss hotlines; grief experienced by children and other animals and much more.
Yes, other animals in the home may also go through a grieving process, even though it may have appeared outwardly that they were not bonded. One animal that I worked with was so severely depressed that their person had them on an antidepressant before I connected with her. Their symptoms may vary in severity, and may even be similar to what we are going through.
For more information on this topic I recommend reading the article on “How animals view death.” This might add some measure of comfort during this time.