Almost all of us have experienced the loss of a beloved pet at some point in our lives. For reasons I won’t delve into here, this topic has been on my mind. The pain, the confusion (the “he wasn’t that old” or “she seemed healthy”), the ultimate mourning period where we all handle depression in our own ways. It is sad. There’s no other word for it. And it’s something those of us in the veterinary field never get used to. Those kind of appointments. I myself still falter at times in my professionalism and have to excuse myself to cry in the bathroom after end-of-life appointments. It takes its toll on you. But to anyone struggling with the loss of a pet, know that you are never alone. To those in the veterinary industry struggling with euthanasia appointments, you are not alone. It may seem silly to say, but I just wanted to send that message out in the world to anyone who needs to hear it. From doctors I repeat their words in my head like a mantra: they are not suffering anymore; they knew you loved them; they had the best life with you; sometimes humane euthanasia is the most loving decision we can make for them; in a way this is a gift that we can give to our pets that is not used in human medicine – we can ease their pain and suffering. And even words from my mom help me with end-of-life decisions for my own fur babies: she will say, though it may seem silly, look at her [the pet] and tell her if she is ready to go, you will let her go. It was quite awhile ago, but that was when my cat Kiki had bile duct carcinoma. It happened suddenly and she went downhill quickly. She was hurting, and I had a decision to make. I don’t know who needs to hear it, but you are not alone. It will be okay. Take it one day at a time. If you have other pets, be strong for them because they still need you. Lean on your friends and family, take comfort in them. It’s okay to be sad.
Helpful resources from the Cornell University website:
“Euthanasia: What to Expect and What Questions to Ask First”