The complexity of timing
“Hey Doc, how will I know when it’s time to say goodbye?”
This is probably one of the most common questions that I’m asked as a veterinarian helping people who are facing aging and end of life with their pets. It’s not always easy or straightforward to answer, and definitely not black and white like we all would hope but very much a gray area. It’s an incredibly personal decision with no right or wrong answer that depends on so many other factors unique to your pet and your specific situation. There’s definitely not one perfect moment in time in which to make this decision.
Balancing quality of life
One of the most important things to be mindful of is that the good days outweigh the bad where your pet is comfortable, happy, and enjoying life vs. lingering, existing, or feeling miserable. Another thing that is equally as important is your own quality of life and mental health as a caregiver, making sure that it still good and that the bond you share with your pet is still strong. Once you start to feel that bond breaking down and/or the bad days are starting to outweigh the good, then it might be time to consider saying goodbye.
Navigating caregiver well-being
I know firsthand just how hard making this decision can be as I’ve been through it with my own pets, and it never gets any easier no matter how many times you go through it. You’re never truly ready for it even when you know it’s the right thing to do and best decision you could possibly make. And then afterwards questioning yourself and the choices you made, wondering if there was more you could have or should have done, beating yourself up for not catching it or addressing things sooner, only adds to the guilt you undoubtedly feel.
If you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed trying to answer this question please know that you do not have to go through this alone. Having someone to talk to who can provide support and guidance can help tremendously. I would be honored to be that person for you to walk with you side by side, help you answer this question, and come up with a customized end of life plan for your pet so that you can focus on what IS most important: enjoying this remaining time together. If you would like to set up a free exploratory call or know you would like to schedule a session with me, please visit my website www.sagepaws.com. You can also email me at email@example.com as well as follow along on Instagram @_sage_paws.