A good death.
I don’t know, is there such a thing?
Some say a good death comes after a life well lived. I’ve seen many of these deaths. Are they any better? Are they easier for us the living or for those dying? Is it consoling to think that our loved ones have had a good life with people who loved them, have lived to a ripe old age, or done wonderful things with their lives?
I suppose it is perhaps some comfort for those in mourning, or something to say to them at least, but it is not an indicator of a “good death”. I been there for too many last breaths and none were good, none were easy on anyone. They were all painful.
Then there are the deaths of those taken too young, or the unexpected life ripped from the world by a horrible accident or event. Those are not good deaths; they are not even just.
I think the hardest part of watching someone that you love die is the letting go. In humans, the ultimate timing is beyond our control. We bed sit and hand hold to make our loved ones feel they are not alone – sometimes for seconds, sometimes for what seems to be an eternity. It is always difficult to say goodbye, but this is a double-edged sword, because not getting to say goodbye is infinitely harder.
Many people are fighting for the “right to die” and I understand. We have a voice. We can say the pain is too much. But, what about when that responsibility falls upon someone else? Can you make the decision to end the life of your wife, husband, father, mother, or God forbid, your child’s life and ever be the same? I can’t imagine what kind of inner strength it would take to make that decision. I don’t think we all could do it; I don’t know if I could.
And what about our pets? They have been members of our family for years sharing joys, sorrows, creating memories. They are best friends, confidants and loyal to a fault. Yet we are inevitably forced to make the decision to end their lives and not “feel” the pain because they are “just” pets. That’s what people who don’t have pets think if not say.
The hardest part, for me is having to play God. Who am I to take their life? What qualifications do I have for deciding that now is the time? When is the right time? Oh I know what the vets say about evaluating their quality of life but I can’t. These deaths feel like blood on my hands. They are not “good deaths”. Yet, that is exactly what euthanasia means in Greek. Ironic.
The self-recrimination is horrible. Did I wait too long? Could we have done something else? Was I good enough to them? Did they have a happy life? Were they ready? I don’t know. Empty consolations saying you “did the right thing” or “they lived a good life” are of no use to me because ultimately the decision to end that life was mine.
That is my rant, because the time to make that decision is in my hands once again. I’d rather someone else did it, but there is no one else. She is my bunny. She has been through some of the absolute worst times and some of the happiest times of my life with me. She is 12 years old, a ripe old age for a rabbit, and has moved six times with me. She had a horrible attitude and would stomp her feet at me to tell me when she wasn’t happy. She ate the wires of our computers, TV, chargers and phones. She loved to eat clover, fresh fruit and veggies. Tonight, she won’t even eat a fresh, ripe strawberry that I’ve picked from the garden for her. She loved our dear bunny Sniff, and I fear, has been pining for him for the last several years. She had an ally in our cat, Seraphina, until I had to take her away last year. She has been overly patient with my children; the ones who took over the house. Taeven has been a loving friend and Desmond has tried to make her happy by giving her his toys to play with and feeding her whenever she sniffed at him.
The boys want to say goodbye and I think it is time. This is almost as hard for me (and probably the reason for the rant). Letting them be a part of it. Two pets have “died” while they slept, mainly because that was when I was strong enough to make the decision, and once I made it could not put it off.
They are asking questions now. I’ve warned them as we’ve watched Nera slowly decline. This weekend was particularly hard. I thought we would have to go on Saturday, but then she seemed fine running in the grass with the boys, her last hurrah. We’ve talked about death and heaven, about age and sickness, about accidents and countless other questions about the subject (I guess, why I have had such a long rant).
They miss Sniff and Seraphina, each buried under a tree out back where we can visit. I don’t believe in hiding things from them, and this death will be shared. It will be hard, perhaps harder because of this, but it is time. For Nera and for them to learn about life.
Each new death makes me remember those that have passed before – a feeling of nostalgia that rips at my heart. A thought for those who I’ve loved and lost, a hope and prayer that they are truly in a better place.
I love you Nera. I will miss you. I am sorry. I hope you find Sniff and Seraphina and have fun playing together and reminiscing. I hope you will be happy and without pain and I hope to see you all again one day.
Good-bye my friend.