Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
To care for anyone at the end of life is a privilege and an honor. Not all people are in the circumstances to allow them to devote time to caring for family members. I cared for my parents when they had end of life issues. My brother lived far away and had a demanding job. He had no extra time or energy for our parents, and I did. The direct experience I gained by taking care of their health, assets, and welfare has given me insight into mortality. I was close to them as they passed into the next realm of existence. I felt the change as they slipped into that permanent state beyond life. They became a kind of distilled essence of all they thought, all they loved, and all they did. Their presence is still felt on earth, but their physical bodies have ceased to function. They are spirits.
Yesterday we said good bye to the earthly physical life of our beautiful coon hound, Artemisia. She was a wonderful, funny, friendly, loyal dog for almost 13 years. She had reached the end of her physical limits, but needed help to make her exit. She was at home for her vet-assisted end of life. Although our sorrow and loss are devastating now it was good to be with her and love her while she departed. Our home feels and sounds empty without the sweet howling welcome when we come home. This mourning will take time. To be alive without my hound today is very hard. Her spirit is teaching me to be grateful for all we shared, no regrets. She does not regret any of her time with us, and wishes us a happy life. I can feel her love as a permanent support and protection. She knows my love for her can never fade. She is unlocking mortality’s secret code for me.
She was cremated today and scattered under trees at the pet cemetery. Now she is a couple miles down the road to the east, and her grandparents are buried a couple of miles to the west of our home. She was close to her grandma, and acted as her therapy dog. I feel sure they are together now in some way. The gift in caregiving is understanding. The task of helping someone die well can be draining and frightening. There is nothing easy about it. The rewards are lasting and meaningful. I know this will come in handy when the time comes for me to die. My loyal hound will be there to guide my way.
Fear has many aspects. Reasonable fear keeps us safe and alert to danger around us. We must learn to strike a balance between risking too much and avoiding life to stay safe. Frightening situations call on the adrenal glands to kick in the fuel needed to either fight or flight. If we tax those little glands too much with our lifestyle choices they can become depleted and add to an over all loss of well being. Some people face danger in their professions, but the rest of us can generally avoid it. Strong healthy bodies with well nourished nervous systems can endure some stress and fear without harm. In reasonable doses we can handle scary aspects of existence.
Dread is quite another matter. I am under a dark cloud of dread now because my darling dog is having end of life issues. She is 12 years old, so this is not a big surprise. Her kidneys are failing in slow motion. She has been to her vet for antibiotics frequently in the last 6 months because she has a recurring infection in her urinary tract. She has been able to recover from these bouts, but not come back to the same level of health. She has less ability to find comfort and move with ease. She no longer jumps up on our bed, and has difficulty jumping into my car. The thrill of riding has been replaced by a fear of getting into the back seat. Since she can’t tell us in words about her level of pain I am wondering.
We cared for my mother at the end of her life. That was a tough time in terms of patience and understanding. It was similar in that we knew she was at the end of her life, but had no idea how long the end might take. Now that Artemisia the magical huntress will soon go to join her grandma I remember how difficult it was to wait and wonder when death would come. Dread is not depression, and it is not regular fear. It is a test. For an unknown time it is necessary to walk the tightrope between sorrow and acceptance. The inability to control or stop events in progress is a hard pill to swallow. It is bittersweet. This lovely dog has brought much joy to the world which will remain with us after she leaves.