Saying Goodbye & Grief Support

“Grieve not,
nor speak of me with tears, 
but laugh and talk of me 
as if I were beside you…
I loved you so,
’twas Heaven here with you.” – Isla Richardson

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From the CSU Animal Cancer Center Website:

“Learning of the diagnosis of cancer in a pet is emotional and difficult. At the CSU Animal Cancer Center, we recognize that providing cancer care is more than administering chemotherapyradiation therapy or performingsurgery – it also involves emotional support for the owner. The staff of the CSU Argus Institute are critical members of our clinical team. They provide support to clients and the oncology team with the goal to foster compassionate client communication and support, teaching of veterinary students, communication, and even hospice care and grief counseling.  Please visit their website directly to learn more about this group:www.argusinstitute.colostate.edu.”

Mission:
The Mission of the Argus Institute is to strengthen veterinarian-client-patient communication and support relationships between people and their companion animals.
We do this by:
  1. Offering support to people who are facing challenges surrounding their pet’s healthcare.
  2. Teaching compassionate communication to veterinary professionals.
  3. Conducting research in veterinarian-client-patient communication.
  4. Providing community outreach through the student-run Pet Hospice Program and the Human-Animal Bond Club.

Vision:
The Argus Institute leads the field of veterinary communication toward the widespread implementation of a practice model that makes the emotional support of people as much a priority as the medical care of pets.

Saying Goodbye

There is no time more difficult than the last days of a pet’s life. Regardless of how much time you’ve had to prepare, the decision to euthanize your friend will not be easy. Throughout the life of your pet, you have been concerned about his/her quality of life. But at this moment, quality and dignity of life become immediate. It is important that your concerns are honored at this time and that you are allowed ample information to make all of the decisions that are ahead. Your entire veterinary health care team will assist you during this time by providing information as well as a concerned, understanding ear. It is important to remember that you have options available to you. Options may include hospice care, assisted by your veterinary health care team, to reduce pain and suffering until natural death occurs.

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Euthanasia is the medical procedure of alleviating pain and suffering by administering drugs in the vein to stop the heart permanently, and allow a quiet, painless death.  Every veterinary health care team performs euthanasia a little differently. However, it is important to remember that you are the ultimate decision maker. Even at this critical time, you have control.  You have the right to select options for these final steps in the care of your pet.Perhaps the most often asked question is, “How will I know it is time?” Deciding the actual time is very personal. It is important to remember that there is no incorrect decision, there is only a decision that is right for you. There are many issues to take into consideration. They include your pet’s quality of life, the cost of continued care, the time you must invest for continued care, and the kind of life you want your pet to live. Quality of life is a subjective assessment, but it can be judged in part by accounting for things such as appetite, activity and energy level, grooming habits, and attention to daily rituals. One such daily ritual might include not sleeping in a favorite place. It may be helpful to keep some sort of written record of your pet’s “lifestyle.” In that record, you may ask yourself questions like:

  • “Do the bad days and times out-number the good?”
  • “Is my pet able to do the things that make him/her happy?”
  • “How does my pet’s day differ now, compared to days before s/he was sick?”

In preparation for your pet’s death, you may want to consider the following:

  • You may wish to spend some special time, doing some of those special things that have held meaning to you during the lifetime of your pet.  This may be as simple as allowing your pet to bask in the sun in a favorite place, or on your lap as you read the paper.
  • Many studies have shown that excluding children or making up stories (e.g., “Fluffy ran away”) may be destructive in the long run. It is important that children not be “sheltered” from this decision-making process. It is also important for parents to appreciate a child’s ability to comprehend the concept of death.
  • You may wish to take pictures, clip hair, or make paw imprints on paper or in clay as a lasting memorial.
  • You may find it easier to discuss body care (cremation, burial, hospital disposal, etc) prior to euthanasia.

Many people decide they want to be present at the time of euthanasia, whereas others do not. Regardless of which path is chosen, the family needs to have an understanding of what may transpire.  Every hospital performs euthanasia differently; however, most are sensitive to your desires for a dignified and painless death for your pet.

The Rainbows Bridge Poem

RainbowBridge.com

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…. 

Author unknown…

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