ANIMAL COMPANION end of life services
"More-than-human animals have the right to a quality of life while they are on this earth. They have a right to be able to walk, hold their head high, eat, drink, enjoy simple pleasures, and be able to go to the bathroom on their own. At which time these most basic aspects of living are gone; they have a right to a peaceful death."
Our animal companion friends are the absolute best teachers about death and dying. I know I am grateful for all my departed animal companions who have taught me about death as a natural end to life. Sadly, in our world, much of the grief we have for our animal companions is disenfranchised, “grief that goes unacknowledged or un-validated by social norms.”
This is especially disheartening because for some humans, their animal companions are their closest friends having no judgement, accepting them completely as they are flaws and all. Paws care not about our flaws.
I am a passionate supporter of the movement that de-stigmatizes animal companions as somehow less-than in the grief process human feel when they experience the loss of their loved fur kid.
Put another way, I work against disenfranchised grief striving to legitimize all grief whether it is for your human loved one, an animal companion, or the earth.
It is often helpful to have a calming presence by your side while you are supporting your animal companion taking off their earth robes. An EOL Guide can offer support to you as you give care for your fur companion.
Whether you don’t want to say goodbye on your own or have a companion that requires medical care for months, Taproot Journeys can help support you. A reminder that our animal companions are often better at using their senses to understand the world, so, if you are stressed, they are likely stressed. For example, simply setting a space in a beautiful and sacred way can make a large difference as you say goodbye.
Taking care of your needs, helping you be calmer, will in turn help your animal companion. Furthermore, your animal companion may appreciate any calming techniques offered during their end of life.
“Grief changes naturally over time; it does soften. Grief invites courage, strength, compassion, empathy, and wisdom. Grief reminds us that each day, each moment is a gift. Grief teaches about forgiveness, grace, and gratitude. Grief heals and deepens relationships” –Aleia O’Reilly, Further Shore
EUTHANASIA: THE GIFT OF ENDING SUFFERING
Understanding end of life options relies on clear communication between vets, caregivers, and families so you can make the best, most loving choice for your companions. Family therapist Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio and author of the Pet Loss Companion reminds us that EOL should be a collaborative process and that it will “not be or feel perfect but that our role is to consider when the joys and pleasures of living are outweighed by infirmity.”
As a Communication practitioner I understand the power of language to shape our reality. Our words have direct lines of action attached to them. Consequently, our language choices are so important as we work to re-shape how society views and perceives death and dying.
If you are lucky enough to make it to old age with your friend, you will ultimately face hard decisions related to euthanasia and how you speak about this choice makes a difference. Many vets have told me most humans wait too long to make the choice to end the suffering of their friend. Dolan-Del Becchio importantly states that “you are ending suffering not ‘killing them’” that the “illness or infirmity is killing them, it is zapping the life out of them.”
You as caregiver are not the one taking away the quality of life. This subtle difference in understanding and describing euthanasia can help with anxiety about the choices faced by you as caregiver to your loved one.
It is important to have clear and direct communication during these difficult times. This helps you evolve into your own choice so you can feel as good as possible about your caregiving decisions. As Brené Brown says, “kind is clear” and clear, direct communication is needed during times of challenge.
HOW CAN TAPROOT JOURNEYS SUPPORT YOU?
Some of the ways that I can support you during this time include:
Active listening and validation of disenfranchised grief
Deciding on in-home or at the vet euthanasia
Geriatric care for your animal companion and emotional support for the human doing the caregiving
In-home vigils and memorial ceremonies for the beloved animal companion after their crossing
Deciding the role in the dying process for other animal companions in the home
Grief support after the death of your animal companion
Breathwork sessions for clearing and grief work
I’ve learned so much about caring for animal companions through the experiences and training I have had and am dedicated to sharing these gifts with you.
"We were devastated when our 14 year old dog Clover had to be sent to the other side. Madrone’s wisdom, guidance and tenderness helped us let go a little more and be much more at peace... moving forward, I will always have a ceremony for my pets who pass because it is incredibly healing and they deserve to be celebrated in the same way as we celebrate our human family."
Certified End of Life (EOL) Doula, Animal Companion EOL Doula, and member of the Death Doula Network International