"GRIEF" and dealing with the loss of a pet
THE SANDWICH IN BETWEEN
Wilson my kitty, is back home quietly resting. The anesthesia for his tumor biopsy today, the strange place (the VET), all the people, also being partly deaf and never away from me, tired him out. He has eaten a bit, given IV fluids, and pain meds. As his caretaker "Mommy" - even though taking care of pets and their livelihood has been my profession all my life - for me this still is the hardest part. Watching and standing by, seeing the aging and health slowly decline of someone or something you love. This time period - the part of embracing a pet or person in your life, loving them and slowly losing them, is the saddest. Everyone on this planet, who has had a pet, or that special person in their life they love, goes through this process. Unlike people, most pets do not pass away and die of old age naturally. We the pet owners usually have to put them down to alleviate their conditions sadly. People outlive pets most of the time. Rare occasions, certain animals - such as parrots or certain mammals, can outlive their owners, depending on the time they arrived in the household.
We are born, to eventually pass. We go through life typically not even thinking or addressing this reality, until we age or are around aging people or pets. Pets and people aren't like cars or computers, we can't just keep getting "new parts". Eventually our bodies give out, and eventually we die. Talking about, and sharing the process of hospice for an elderly pet or person who is nearing or going through their last months or weeks of life, takes courage.
I often over the years have been there physically - with, for, or in place of an owner - accompanying their pet as they go through the process of the final decision of euthanasia, or passing of natural causes. This is an understood act of bringing relief to something or someone, that is near and dear to their hearts, and has brought them unconditional love for years. When you decide to have a pet, this is the risk. And this decision, or final moment and truth, is never easy for anyone. I feel the process of euthanasia in the time of ailing or suffering, is ultimate selfless act of unconditional love, giving to the needs of your pet and putting aside your own. It is one of the kindest things you can do. Humans should deserve the same dignity.
The time of joy and happiness you experience with your pet, is the sandwich in between.
I look down at my little man Wilson, and struggle with the reality of truth to myself. He is 15, he has an aggressive cancer that can not be removed. He is dehydrated, moving slowly, and not eating well. He is tired. He is not what he was in his earlier years. I will wait for Oncology on Monday, but discussing with my Vet today, there probably wont be many alternative options. My main goal at this point, after giving Wilson all the best opportunity of chances, is to provide hospice care, and keep him comfortable for as long as he doesn't suffer.
Pets are often incorporated into your family dynamic, and in some ways can take the place of a human being. It is important to talk to people as you go through the process of losing a pet, as the emotional grief can be just as devastating emotionally, often more so, than losing a human being. The unconditional love and joy pets provide can seldom be replaced by human interaction. There can be a large emotional and physical void in a pet owner's life, after their pet passes away that can be quite traumatic.
Even with all of this, I always recommend to people to experience having a pet in their lives. Even if it's a goldfish in a bowl. There is a certain humility, freeing of the heart with utter joy, and a special bonding with a pet that provides a different perspective on life. This happens when you make up your mind to be enchanted and entertained, by allowing that special creature to become "your pet". It is a different experience than loving another human. To have "a pet" in your life throws a whole another dimension into the equation. Pets provide unconditional love. They do not hold grudges, do not have expectations or feel obligated that you "owe them". They live in the moment, and their moment is "YOU". Always.
I can't explain it. But other pet owners understand. They "get it". Most pet owners would say the same. And normally you won't regret the experience of having a pet either. There is no substitute for a "PET".
So I choose to take the risk often, and enjoy that "sandwich". My life is much richer for it.