Whatever floats your boat...
Buddy and I spent some time at the beach today. Cloudy, rainy, glorious. Take no minute for granted.
So beautiful. It's not an easy road. I am so sorry you are having to travel this road. You are far from alone.
My intention when posting the following was to let people folowing Woodruff's lymphoma treatments on the National Canine Cancer Foundation page know he passed. As it turns out, there was a lot of feels going on, after having lost so many to Cancer.
I am saddened to say our Woodruff was taken from us earlier this month by a thyroid neoplasm which metastisized to his lungs. His chemo treatments and subsequent immunotherapy shots gave us a wonderful/active and healthful experience with him following his diagnosis of B-cell Lymphoma over a year ago. His Lymphoma did not return. Following his death, I put down that which I felt, having lived through this on numerous previous occasions with other dogs. This is a hard read. It may not be for every one. It may help some. This was my brief journey immediately following Woodruff's passing:
So many of us have lost our pets to Canine Cancer. We hate Canine Cancer. With every fiber of our beings. we want to see an end to Canine Cancer. It's a constant which many of us are way too familiar. Yesterday, our best friend was with us, today the end, and our tomorrow is filled with sad empty places.
Well meaning and empathetic friends and or even strangers will speak of the rainbow bridge, saying things like "your best friend will be happier/better off not suffering". Its hard right now to ignore that the physical reality of that rainbow bridge being at the bottom of the 2x4x4 foot freshly dug hole in the yard, or in some cold metal urn. Some people probably will not like reading this. Perhaps those people would be happier to skip to the end of what I have to say here. I am saying all of this because we who have been through this earn every bit of this anger, sorrow, pain, and yet rarely do we find words to express everything we go through because of Canine Cancer. For those well meaning people who reach out with their comforting words and gestures please understand at this moment we do not want anything to diminish the magnitude of everything we have been put through, (the struggle, the pain, and the emotional roller coaster). Thank you all so much for your offer of comfort, and your carefully chosen words of solace. Still many of us in these times hard earned the searing heartbreak, disappointment and yes even anger we may feel. In many cases this is the end of a difficult, expensive journey spanning any where from days to weeks, months,or even years.
I've personally lost several fur kids to Cancer. The sadness, the emptiness, and the grief each time I understand. However, there is also anger (anger which I feel and own... and yes earned). It frustrates me every time. Anger? Why Anger? I had to know where my anger comes from to abolish this horrible state I am in. Is this normal? No one seems to ever address it. No one seems to admit to it. I have been through this time and again. I am sure this time will not be my last. So I wrote this to better understand the anger's source. Herein lies my well of pain, and ultimately my path to living life again with gratitude following my cherished pets I've lost to Canine Cancer.
Yes, enough is enough Canine Cancer for making us face scenarios in which some of us will euthanize our best friends; our furry family members. Our ailing companion though sick and dying still wags a tail at the sight of us up until the very end and looks at us with hopeful adoring eyes. Of course we know the alternatives to euthanasia are lists of outcomes like hemorrhaging, heart attack, suffocating/drowning, seizures, blood toxicity, convulsing, loss of bladder control, raging infections and even more horrific laundry lists of pain we don't want to see our furry companions endure. We know these things all to well. They play over and over in our minds, as we come to grips of what we will do. This is why some of us come to a place where we chose to end the suffering of companion dearest to us. It is hard. So we in our compassion and love choose to do what some refer to the "ultimate selfless act of kindness" we can do for another being who is suffering and has no hope of seeing any recovery or measure of good health in days ahead. Why then do I feel so much anger, pain and frustration because of this seemingly selfless choice? Do I feel as though I am betraying a loved one's trust in us? Maybe. Maybe not. We have spent so much energy and more to provide and care for the best in our canine companion lives for so long. There is a real trust we foster there with all that good will. So what's next?
We've been told, our companions live in the moment. They don't anticipate what is coming. Some find great comfort in that. I don't completely subscribe to that idea. Let's think about what illness and the process euthanasia means from a canine perspective. We've heard that dogs are "stoic" and refusing to show their illness until they can no longer hide it. Well, certainly they are social animals, always mindful of keeping their status in the pack. In nature, weakness and outlived usefulness in a pack situation is often rewarded with abandonment, further injury or death. That is certainly not part of the loving connection you feel. When they can no longer hide their illness, I believe they begin to anticipate being ostracized, made outcast. We reassure, spend as much time as we can, and go the distance to comfort provide for our dying companions, sending the message that they are still very much a part of our pack. We keep all that up right to the point when decide to extinguish the life of our loving and ailing companions, sometimes after even they have let go of the hope that they can remain useful or able to carry on. Your final "ultimate act of loving kindness" is a sudden reversal of the message you've been sending. Perhaps in many instances the dog does not see the end coming at last. However, we perceive it. We may harbor doubt as to what this kindness means, or whether this process is understood as the only painless outcome. In effect, we ostracize, abandon and further injure to the point of death a bond we can't fathom living without, but soon shall know. We in an instant become executioners of Nature's cruel but intended plan despite our own resistance to its idea. I feel anger at the thought. My intellect understands the necessity. I earned all am I feeling. It's mine. Then again, perhaps I am not alone. None the less, I felt the need to express it after living it repeatedly.
The Veterinary Oncologist called after getting a message from another Veterinarian who put our dog down at the house. I am touched by this outreach from someone who has seen so much of this. She says, "In the end, our furry companions find the way to let you know that it is okay to let go. They let go as well, almost as if giving up." I finally find the solace, truth and wisdom in that statement. I need to let go of the pain and the anger now. Eventually all of the pain, anger and sadness gives way to gratitude for memories, and moments that made me a better human. Who among us can say that a life spent with a wonderful canine companion has not changed the course of how they live, or think or see the world? Not many of us. Even that pain anger and sadness felt from the loss can be channeled to something good; something to help others who go through the same trying times. You are better for it. All of it. You can let go now. You can be grateful for every bit of what you had for the time you shared. You are part of something larger. You are far from alone.
Thank you for your kind words, Chig. I appreciate it. I also appreciate your anger and sadness. How I wish that all thinking creatures had an off switch, like Data on Star Trek. When the end starts to become unbearable, you could just.. turn off. It's a comforting fantasy, right up there with the rainbow bridge.
BTW, it's been almost two months since his diagnosis, and Buddy still seems to be feeling pretty good. I haven't seen any signs of decline yet.
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