Pet Death in a Human World

This is Executive Editor, Karen van Vuuren’s editorial in Vol 6 #2 of Natural Transitions Magazine: Pet Death in a Human World

Ringo the lama, featured in an article by Cook Rodgers in Vol. 6 No. 2 Pets and Death.

Until recently, my experience of pet death was limited. I had witnessed the demise of two very and one moderately short-lived hamsters which probably gorged themselves to death on a feast of nasty red synthetic carpet, a diseased guppy I netted from a polluted London canal, and a handful of baby sparrows, which regularly plopped from nests on our house roof. My childhood companion and sanity-saver, Mitzy the cat, survived many years on our busy street only to meet her end under the wheel of a visitor’s car in our driveway. When it happened, I was a young adult living away from home so I mourned her departure from afar.

 

As I was receiving the most amazing array of pet memorialization and home funeral photos for this issue, a friend asked me if I would attend the euthanization of her cat. It turned out to be my most intense deathbed experience with any being, including humans. Many pet owners admit that their animals are like “their children.” That was how Celia the cat was to Carolyn. Those gathered in the room shared their emotions as the kindly vet explained the procedure. Everyone there had suffered a painful loss. One woman’s husband had ended his own life the year before. Carolyn’s husband had died as a young man, three weeks after their marriage. There was intense grief during the process of sending this glossy-coated but terminally ill creature on its way out of this life.

 

In speaking with the vet a few days after Celia’s passing, he confessed, “It’s never easy for me to euthanize an animal. I always ask myself, every time, do I have the right to take this life?” Yet this vet had often cared for these creatures throughout their lives, so their owners felt comfortable and safe with him. He did what he had to do in the gentlest way possible. But it weighed on him. He’d euthanized thousands of creatures. “Can you imagine that?” he asked. I admit, I couldn’t.

 

In this issue of the magazine, we share opinions about euthanization and hospice for our pets and highlight the ways we let them go. We hear from pioneering holistic veterinarians, animal sanctuary founders and others who all raise important questions: How much do we anthropomorphize our pets and their suffering? Do we really understand animal behavior? Do we equate it with the human being’s response to illness, infused with our emotions and fears? Is a pet that has lived so closely with humans in a different category to an animal in the wild whose suffering would end in the jaws of a predator? When we can end their suffering, shouldn’t we do that? What is our role and responsibility to these loyal companions who have given us so much? I imagine that for most of us, what we choose for our pets is probably what we would choose for ourselves. And the choices are just as difficult.

 

 

 

 

 

Home funeral guides – meeting the needs of suicide families

Home Funeral Guides – Meeting the Needs of Suicide Families The following article is from Vol 5 Issue No. 2 of Natural Transitions Magazine on SUICIDE. The authors are Lee Webster and Donna Belk of the National Home Funeral Alliance As home funeral guides, we are invited into family situations where we do not have…

After a suicide, something to do

The following article After a suicide, something to do by Karen van Vuuren was published in Vol 5 Issue No. 2 of Natural Transitions Magazine, January 2017. The phone rang early that morning and when I answered, I heard the faint voice of a young-sounding person. “Hi, it’s Jill. I’m hoping you can help me….

Suicide: Well Remembered

Last year I was at a winter concert at my children’s school when I got a call from a friend asking for support with an unexpected death. A father of a young child had chosen to end his life after years of struggling with depression. His wife had discovered him that morning after he’d ingested…

Good Law! How it impacts our culture of death

The law is a mechanism of protection, but it can also stymie change, because it can be rooted in old paradigms. Here’s a recent example I encountered. A group of dynamic, changemakers seeks to open an eco funeral home. Green funeral establishments are popping up around the country as a few funeral industry daredevils and…

Veterans: May their Souls Rest in Peace: Their End of Life Care

May their souls rest in peace: Veterans’ end of life care. Editorial from Natural Transitions Magazine, Vol. 3 No. 4 on Veterans.   When my father, Jack was dying, he shared a story that woke me up to who he was and the reason for his restless soul. I’d never understood this volatile, charismatic Dutchman…

The Courage to be with Death: Movers and Shakers

The Courage to Be with Death. Editorial for Natural Transitions Magazine: Movers and Shakers issue, Vol. 3 No. 3. by Karen van Vuuren. Editorials customarily address the current issue of a publication, so forgive me for first writing about one that is past. The theme for Natural Transitions Magazine, volume 3 #2 was “Responding to…

Responding to Crisis: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Responding to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Karen van Vuuren, Editor, Natural Transitions Magazine. (Letter from the Editor for Vol. 3 No. 2 Responding to Crisis.)   Noah Pozner’s mother chose to see his body after he was killed in the Newtown, CT school shooting of 2012. She felt that she, “owed…

Coma Communication – reading the signs

Reading the Signs: Coma Communication by Ann Jacob A person’s essence is present in all states of consciousness, during times of wakefulness, sleep, delirium, dementia, coma, near-death, and dying. This belief inspires our work in coma communication, the art of cherishing and connecting with people seemingly unable to communicate. Arnold Mindell, (who along with Amy Mindell…

The spirit in Alzheimer’s

The following article on the spiritual aspects of Alzheimer’s by Megan Carnarius and is excerpted from an article published in Volume 3#1 of Natural Transitions Magazine (Communication). To sign up for the free e-version of our magazine – fill out the Contact Form on the Natural Transitions website. A high-quality print version of the magazine…