Thursday, 6 January 2011

On death and dying

What a way to start the New Year - between Christmas and Hogmanay we seemed to be plagued by the passing of loved ones - not my own - but those of the parish
My first funeral of 2011 was Wednesday - first day back for the grave diggers - the family had been offered Hogmanay but didn't want to have that day coinciding with that anniversary... for me it was a personally sad day too - time to say goodbye to my companion of the past 13 years and more - Bracken, beloved, faithful friend and companion on many an early morning walk.
Bracken was a Border Collie - in her prime full of life and energy - no walk too long, nor indeed too frequent. Over the past few years she has had progressive spondilitis - the fusing together of the bones of her spinal column - by slow degrees getting slower and stiffer. She had drugs to ease her joints and her pain, but - ah! the drugs helped the disease but gradually caused her organs to begin to fail, and ate away at the lining of her guts. Not fair!
With a human you can explain, consult and encourage but how do you explain to your faithful friend? How do you ask her what she'd prefer?
Now lifting her into the car to go for walks...
watching her in the evenings chewing at her sore joints...
She still loved people; loved to be fussed and petted - but take away the stimulus of visitors and she'd simply curl up and sleep.

My dilemma: give her the release and let her go gently; or wait until the organ failure was so severe she went into a 'natural' collapse?
I loved her enough to be able to accept that it was not fair to keep her going to spare me.
So we sat and cuddled by the fire
the vet came to our home, and she slipped away in my arms... we pray that God grants us a peaceful end... and I wondered if I were that ill - would I want to choose to slip away peacefully in the arms of the one I loved?

I do not have an answer to that question - and I pray it is not one I need consider personally for many years to come

Rest in Peace my wee friend... chasing squirrels in God's big forest

1 comment:

  1. It is all so incredibly sad Julie, and I too have held a dog who has died in my arms after being injected by the Vet (although it is an altogether more complicated and less poignant account than you offer). But - with you - I also wonder about the human ethical dimension. Is the traditional and oft-repeated Christian line that euthanasia/assisted suicide/whatever-you-might-call-it is morally reprehensible, actually correct? I have sufficient doubts to want to have the debate and get frustrated that no-one in the church seems publicly open to engage in it (tho many do privately!) But meanwhile, hope you get over Bracken's loss, thankful for all the good times!