Rescue Journal

the life switch

Carol  ·  Mar. 6, 2014

erin and i were talking about death today..specifically in relation to jesse. it's close but not yet his time. and i have had the same conversation this week about owen and crippled max too.
my life revolves around illness, disability and end of life both my nursing career and rescue. and because of this my view of aging, illness, disability and death is most likely different than the average healthy and hearty person's.

life and death are not electrical switches, flipped on and off at will. both life and death are a multitude of interrelated and interdependent processes...physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

in any unwellness of health, in any disability, in any extreme old age...normal simple tasks of living, become more challenging. its normal, it is expected. sometimes it is hard to observe and it certainly is hard to live. and it is universal for both humans and animals...reaching the end of lifes long and hard road when the body is fragile, worn out and frail is difficult.

but all of us..human and animal have learned in our lifetimes to rise to the challenges that life presents us...we fight thru, we soldier on and as we become aged or disabled, we learn to compensate to get along.

we don't give up easily..that spirit inside us clings tightly to the magical spark of life...few of us will thoughtlessly just toss our life away. we know that once that life switch is flicked off, it is flicked off forever ...there is no second chance or changing our minds...death is the only thing in life that is permanent.

sometimes it takes a great deal of strength to watch those we love fade away but they are entitled to that fading out journey so when their death actually comes...they are heart, mind, body and soul ready...their spirit is ready to fly free.

i do not worry so much any more about the actual moments of death..i worry more about the journey they respectfully be allowed to take. we can, will and do ease their final passing, but the journey to reach the gate of passing, is theirs to take, it does not belong to me.
we can help them by providing the meds to keep them comfortable, adjusting their environments for ease of their use and safety...we can add companionship and interesting variety to their living but we can't take their journey away from them, they haven't said they are done yet.

we cannot stop or hurry death, but we can use our hearts, minds and heads to ensure these end of life journeys are cared for and supported as best as we is beyond any human's power to make the end of life perfectly grand. but as long as someone wants to keep living, we can in gentle kindness walk with them and when needed, reach out to hold their hand.



i think the journey is not to let them get lost into suffering..with no quality of life. we have to let them go before that. but it is about acknowledging that life does not have to be easy for them to still value it. when life becomes too great of a burden to the one living it, it is time to let them go.


sometimes it takes greater strength to make the decision for them, despite what they and your heart might be telling you. If I asked Trev if he wanted to go, it would have been no... but I couldn't promise him that I could keep him comfortable and out of crisis or that his end would be calm and surrounded with support from people he the end, he could only lift his head, I couldn't move him without hurting him and I had to move him to change positions and change him. I had to give him water from a syringe but he would still eat (pizza and steak anyways). He would have needed lax. and stim for his bowels...I couldn't leave him for 5 min. alone..his breathing was getting labored at times....I had my neighbors help to carry him in their vehicle and be there with us at the end...I also had the vet he knew and liked was just before Christmas...did I interfere with his journey...yes I i feel bad...yes...but I would feel worse if Trev had suffered more than he already had...that dog gave it his all...he overcame every loss he had...of his front leg. then the use of his back legs then the use of his only working front leg...I had a similar situation with my lab Nina...both dogs were determined, stubborn, willful and exceptionally faithful and loving...and would fight to stay alive until there last breath...even if it was taken in pain and fear.


i would think max is way to young to end his life. he is full of piss and vinegar, as they used to say way more then jess and owen. that would be a tragedy