The gift of a gentle death – a final act of love.
When we choose veterinary aid-in-dying, we are choosing to circumvent the suffering that all too often accompanies dying. We are choosing to release our pet from the confines of a failing body. We are shepherding them gently out of this world and easing the passing the best way we know how, the best way that is humanly possible. And we are making sure that they are not alone.
No one wants to choose death for a beloved pet. When a pet still feels well and welcomes each new day, it can be hard to fathom ever making such a choice. But when a pet is experiencing the impact of a life-limiting disease and showing signs of retreating from life, knowing that we have the option of providing them with a gentle death can be a comfort. If things get bad, we know we have the power to intervene and make things better than they otherwise would be.
How our pets die matters immensely. It can influence the memories we carry, how we grieve and how we heal. It can colour the entire narrative of our relationship – the story of who our pet was, and what they meant to us, as well as what we meant to them. When our pet is dying it is a final opportunity to be present and caring, to keep them feeling safe, to speak to them, and touch them, and let them know that they are loved. It is an exquisitely sad time, but it can also be a strangely beautiful and intimate time.
I witness this almost every day. Sometimes a gentle death really does provide the happiest possible ending.
There is love in holding and there is love in letting go.