Nothing tears at the heart more than when we are faced with making the decision of letting our beloved pet go. From the time that we first bring our pet home, we live in the awareness that we are probably going to have to watch them die. Yet, we forge forward, knowing that the great benefits will far outweigh the sorrowful end. Still somehow, when the time comes, we are often still unprepared.
Kippith was a wonderful dog. She touched many hearts over the ten plus years that she moved among our family. Then life took the form of bone and lymphatic cancer in her body. No matter how much we loved her and wanted her to be with us, we had to face the reality that she would not live much longer. We spent time with her, letting her know how much we appreciated her and how much we loved her. Then, that morning, still fresh in my memory, we gave her her favorite food, took her to the river for one more fling in the water, brought her home, petted her, loved her, and then I gave her the injection to help her die painlessly.
Don’t Listen To The Fearful Mind
Death comes to every individual. It is one of the only things that we can depend on when it comes to life itself. Yet, it is probably our biggest fear. When we face the death of our pet, the fear that lives deep within comes to the surface. Our busy ego-mind races to find a solution. Once it determines that it cannot control the outcome, it busies itself again, trying to guide us through the decisions we need to make.
At a time when we need to find the love inside us to guide us, we often listen to the fearful mind instead. The problem is, the fearful mind cannot guide us, it can only give us reasons based on its past experiences. If we are contemplating whether it is time to euthanize our pet, it will create a list of all the reasons we should do it now. About the time we are convinced that doing it now is the right thing, the fearful mind shifts gears and lists all of the reasons we shouldn’t do it now. Unfortunately, this is how the mind works. It keeps operating, often jumping from one conclusion to the next, and this only leads to confusion, frustration and sorrow, at a time when we need patience and understanding.
When Is The Right Time To Let A Pet Go
As a veterinarian for many years, I have been asked this question over and over again, it is not one that the veterinarian can answer. He or she might give you some reasons one way of the other, but this is not guidance that we can rely on. The vet might say that she believes that the pet is suffering or that they know the pet’s current condition is terminal. Again, this is nothing but a story coming from a mind with it’s own perspective.This decision should be made by the caretaker that the pet is closest to, and it should be made with an awareness that ultimately, life makes the decision.
No one wants a pet to suffer, especially when it is your pet with a life-threatening illness. Buddha said, “All of life is suffering.” But that statement was meant for humans, and our experience of life is vastly different from other animals. From the time we are children we are taught that we are separate beings and the natural result of that is a functional sense of separate identity. This is something that only an animal with a highly developed pre-frontal cortex is capable of doing. I am Dennis. I am a boy. You are Mary. You are a girl. From that time forward, our belief in a “me”, separate from the rest of life, becomes stronger and stronger, and this seems to be confirmed by our experiences.
The ego-mind creates an identity from our body-brain, which acts to give us a subjective perspective. We use this perspective to make decisions we believe are in our best interest. We form opinions about what we think is good and bad, what might help us or harm us, and so on, based on our individual experiences. From that period forward, our ego-mind is constantly attempting to create an external reality that will satisfy and serve our apparent separate identity. When things don’t go the way our ego-mind has us believing is in our best interest, we react negatively. We develop fear-based responses in hopes that we can protect “ourselves” from those things that make us feel bad.
The Truth is that there is no separation. There is only the conditioned belief that we are separate. This sense of separation is what causes our suffering. This is what Buddha was telling us.
Our Pets Do Not Have An Ego
Our pets on the other hand, don’t have the ability to create separate identities. Their body-brain does not work like that. They do not have an ego-mind that attempts to create or explain life in order for them to be happy. There is no sense of “me” that develops. They are not able to see themselves as separate from life, and don’t have expectations about the future. They live in the moment and take life as it comes. Yes, they condition themselves and there is experience, but there is no personalization, nor is there any subjectivity. Without a sense of separate identity, there cannot be a sense of “I am sad, depressed, angry, grieving, anxious…” and so on. No personalization, no suffering.
The material body, when it is disturbed, shows symptoms. This might be pain, nausea, lack of appetite, etc. These are not all bad, as they give us an indication that there is an imbalance that needs to be addressed. Without the physical symptoms, we would never know that the material body has a problem. Fortunately, our pets do not attach a personalization to the experience.
Again, they do not think, “I am in pain, vomiting, shivering…” There is no sense of a “me” that is experiencing these symptoms. Pain arises and leaves. Vomiting arises and leaves. Fear arises and leaves. No ego-mind participation, no sense of separate identity, and no suffering.
So many times over the years, I have witnessed the agony experienced in the exam room when the veterinarian is discussing a life-ending disease being experienced by their pet. Everyone in the room is suffering except the pet.
I am reminded of a client who recently revealed her story about euthanizing her dog, and how her guilt has plagued her for so many years. She agonizes over having made the decision too soon, but in truth, it is nothing but a story that her ego-mind has told her that causes her guilt. The ego-mind could have just as easily told her that she waited too long, and she could have agonized over that decision. The truth is that it was the exact time that it should have been done because that is when it happened. Anything beyond this fact, is nothing but a story created by the ego-mind and has no validity whatsoever. I have heard people say that they never want to have a pet again because of the anguish they went through having to make the decision to let the pet go.
The Letting Go Process
Let’s look at what happens when we go through the process of having to let a sick pet go. Imagine that your pet has been diagnosed with a terminal disease such as cancer or heart disease. From the moment that you heard the words from the veterinarian, you have likely reacted in a fearful manner. Thoughts run through your mind like, “How long will my pet suffer? Should I allow harsh treatments to buy some time? When will I know it’s time? I can’t stand the thought of not having my pet.” and many others. When fearful thoughts like these run rampant in our mind, our body responds because of prolonged exposure to their negative energy.
Under the influence of fear, we stay in fight or flight mode. Our mind is disturbed, reactive, and anxious. This is the last place we want to look for guidance. In this state, we have no ability to become aware of our intuitive mind, which is the source of the guidance we need. Only the intuitive mind, where Source reveals itself, can move us along a path that’s in alignment with our pet’s needs. Only intuitive guidance can free us from suffering over difficult decisions.
1. Let Go Of Fear
The first step in letting go of our sick pet is to find a way to release our fear, so that we can be helped by a higher source. Sometimes this is hard to do because the ego-mind wants to dominate as it has done so many times before. When the ego-mind is in control, we cannot hear the soft voice of Source whispering in our ear. We cannot feel ourselves being moved in the direction that is called for. Avoiding the trap of the fearful ego-mind is simply finding a way to separate yourself from your busy thoughts. When you focus on stepping back and being aware of your thoughts, you naturally realize that you are not your thoughts and that thoughts are nothing but energetic movements that present themselves and then leave. Like a wisp of smoke, they have no meaning. In time, the busy thoughts will become quiet and then take a back seat while you focus on your intuitive mind. Then you will see clearly what needs to be done.
2. Choosing A Loving Perspective Ultimately,
The only choice we have in this matter is whether we want our seat of consciousness in a fearful place or a loving place. For though we may be the instrument used by Source, in the passing of our pet, only Source decides when this will happen. Our choice of love or fear will dictate whether “we” will suffer or not. If we choose love, we simply need to focus our awareness on love and less awareness on the fearful, busy ego-mind. To shift our awareness to a loving state, we simply spend more heart-to-heart time with our beloved pet. By spending time alone with our pet, focusing on the appreciation and gratitude we have for her, our heart opens and our unconditional love connects with the unconditional love coming from her heart. This entanglement of Source energy moves us to a higher dimension where things are clearer.
Without the fearful ego-mind in command, we find ourselves focused on our pet’s needs instead of what we need to do to feel better about the situation. We find ourselves accepting that our pet is going to die, knowing that there will be sadness and grief, but understanding that love is larger than those emotions and always there for us. Fearful thoughts and feelings seem insignificant when sitting in a loving seat of consciousness.
Instead of fearing our pet’s death, we are grateful for the time that we have had with our pet. We spend the remaining time together in a loving state of gratitude. Decisions that need to be made are easier and choices are clearer. When we are free from the busy, fearful thoughts, we are totally there for our pet, like our pet has always been there for us. Our energy is light and positive, and our pet feels that. Thus we find healing even in the face of death. When the time comes to let go, we operate from a loving perspective, with an open heart. When our pet has passed on, we realize that it is never over and that the loving bond between ourselves and our pet is still just as strong and comforting as ever.Saying goodbye to our pets is undoubtedly one of the hardest things we will ever have to do.