This is Part 2 in a 4-Part Series of articles on pet loss and grief.
Saying Goodbye To Our Pets
Saying goodbye to our pets is never easy, whether they've been with us for two years or twenty. Given that their life spans are generally shorter than ours, it's likely to be an inevitable event.
I have a theory about its difficulty. Our pets remain "perpetual toddlers" – they bring all the joy and wonder of a young child into our daily lives. Unlike our real children, our pets do not grow up and leave the house to lead independent lives. Their toddler love is an intricate part of our homes.
In this perpetual toddler aspect, we are always responsible for their well being. Losing them to death touches a raw part inside that whispers to us that we couldn't protect them from the clutches of death. Of course, we know the truth intellectually. But in grief, our emotions get tangled up and we often feel like we should have "done something more."
How To Manage Saying Goodbye?
Mostly, we don't want to talk about death, not our own, not our pet's.
However, it's worthwhile to have some plans and ideas in place for that moment, so we are not caught unaware when the time comes. Being prepared allows us to move through the process with fewer regrets; because, oh boy, those regrets will rise up to greet you in the grieving process.
This is by no means an exhaustive look. There are many articles that offer support about the end-of-life for our animals and how to answer the difficult question "is it time"?
Grateful For A Lap of Love To Say Goodbye
If you are considering euthanasia, the first question you have to answer for yourself is where you would like to have it. Your options include going to the vet or having the process at home. In-home euthanasia means a qualified vet comes to your home and administers the medications to your pet there.
I was recently faced with the decision of euthanasia for my pet. I used the services of a company called Lap of Love - A Veterinary Hospice & In-Home Euthanasia.*
Lap of Love is a nationwide company; a different vet is in each area along with a different fee. I was pleased with the quality of care and professionalism.
For my area in California, the vet was René Butler, DVM. I first spoke with her on the phone. One of the things that impressed me was her advice to get registered on-line with all my information. This also allowed me to upload a pet photo for her which I found comforting, making it more personal.
Registering on-line with Lap of Love was not only helpful, but important. If my pet's health deteriorated rapidly, René would already have the information on-hand to come to the house urgently. In my case, my pet had breathing problems and that could go downhill very quickly.
There was a cost (which varies, check on line for your area). Some might think it's a lot of money. When I considered it against 18 years of love that my pet had given, it was not a worry.
To help yourself prepare, I recommend setting aside a small fund just for this future purpose. If you saved $30 every few months, you'd have the fee in no time. (I'd also add in extra money to pay for care of the pet's body afterwards.)
René was wonderful. She was gentle and professional. We took care of the details of paying beforehand.
The aftercare details were discussed; for example, whether you will give the pet to her afterwards, or if you will make your own arrangements. We had already said that she could let herself out of the house while I continued to hold my pet. This gave me as much time as I needed to be with the process and to not feel rushed. I made my own arrangements for the care of my pet's body.
Important Tip For The Euthanasia Process
When you hold your pet for the final moments, it's important to know that with death, there will be a relaxing of all tissues and what is in the bladder will release. I recommend having an incontinence pad (also called "chux" in the medical field) under their bottom. These pads can be purchased at a local grocery store or pharmacy, or from a pet store as "wee pads."
For example, if you hold a small pet on your lap or chest during the process, you can gently slip a small chux under the pet's bottom. This is easily done after the first injection that relaxes the pet. If you have a larger pet, like a German Shepherd, you might be holding your dog's head and the vet can arrange the chux under them.
The chux will soak up and contain any fluid released. While getting urine on yourself won't hurt you, it will be a distraction. It will be warm, and then it will be cold, and you'll wonder if it leaked on other things. With the chux, fluid is absorbed effortlessly and you can focus on the important part of the process – being with your pet. Afterwards, it's easy to pick up the chux pad and toss it..
Saying Goodbye To Your Pet With The Radiance Technique®
Students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) have an incredible tool to help themselves and their pets through this challenging process. During the days prior to the euthanasia, take extra time with your pet using your TRT® hands-on. During the euthanasia process itself, keep your radiant hands on your pet the entire time, to support their journey into light and for a melding of your hearts.
It's okay to cry. Tell them over and over, if you wish, that you love them. Let the love in your TRT® hands-on and in your voice carry your pet across the threshold. There may also be a time of silence. It's all okay.
My preference, by far, is for in-home. I am incredibly private and want to be in charge of the process for my pet. Death is a part of our lives and I consider it an honor to support someone as they pass through those doors.
This is all assuming we have time to prepare for everything. Sometimes these options are taken out of our hands in an emergency. Then, we have to do the best we can and know that our love, in the end, will carry us through.
We share the journey together with our pets – all the way to the end.
*(Please note: I am not affiliated with Lap of Love or the products mentioned
and receive no renumeration in my recommendation of them.)