Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When the Ideal and Realty Diverge

     In an ideal world, we would all have the time, energy, resources, funds and stamina to care for our dying - whether they are human or animal - in the comfort of their own home, with the best medications, state of the art equipment, attentive and supportive caretakers, and an abundance of time, energy and love.  We would spend quality time with the dying, wrapping up loose ends and coming to peace with his or her passing.  We would put everything else on hold to be in the moment with our loved one, fully appreciating the significance and preciousness of our final time together.

     And then there is reality: the job that demands your time, the children who also need your attention, the checkbook already strained, and confusion abounding.  The demands on your time, your resources, and your funds are many.  Caring for the dying under these circumstances seems at best difficult and at worst impossible.

     While it is tempting to run rather than act, hide rather than make tough decisions or ignore rather than cope with problems, doing so invariably proves to be a mistake, leaving you feeling guilt ridden, exhausted, confused, and full of regret.

     So what can you do?

     1.  Find an experienced veterinarian whom you trust.  Treatment options and decisions are overwhelming.  You need someone who is qualified to assess the options and how they would apply to YOUR animal, as well as your resources and values.  The time to find this person is now, before you need them.  If you think you might be interested in a holistic or integrative vet, locate a few now, meet them, see what they offer and assess your comfort with them.  Don't assume that the "expert" at the vet hospital will be the person you need.  What you need is someone to bounce ideas off of, ask questions, feel like you are heard and like the vet has time and interest in helping you provide the best care you can for your animal.

     2.  Assess which of your friends and family are going to be helpful when your animal is sick.  Who is an animal lover?  Who shares your values?  Who will take your concerns seriously?  Who will give you the space to formulate your own ideas and opinions without forcing theirs on you?  Feel them out.  Ask questions.  You want to know you have people to turn to in times of crisis.  Trying to care for your animal alone, without caring support, will increase your stress and make the task much harder.

     3.  Relieve yourself of the burden of making a long term plan.  You don't have to decide today what is going to happen every step of the way.  You are not going to know how you feel, or how your animal is going to react, until you get there.  Give yourself permission to see how the journey unfolds and change your mind at any point along the way.

     4.  Be gentle with yourself.  There isn't a perfect person, pet parent, decision maker, or caretaker among us.  We all make mistakes.  We all make decisions that seemed sound at the time but we wish we could change on reflection.   None of us has unlimited time, unlimited money, unlimited knowledge.  Hard as it may be to accept, there are limits on what we can spend, limits on what we can do, and limits on how far we can go.  That's part of life, and it's part of dying, too.

     5.  When in doubt, let your heart be your guide.  In your heart, in the quiet times when you are with your animal, there is a seed in your heart that knows what to do, what matters most, and what feels right.  Trust it.  Honor it.  Tend to it.  It will never lead you wrong.

Love will guide us
peace has tried us
hope inside us
will lead the way...
Love will guide us 
through the hard night

~ Sally Rogers

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the time it takes to present these! Look forward to them every week.

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