Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Last Goodbye

My 86 year old grandmother passed away last Thursday, so the entire family is descending on Burlington NJ for the funeral. I used to be terrified of death. But as I age, its not so much the idea of dying, but how death is perceived in our culture that concerns me. My father, being the open minded philosophical man he is, encouraged me to think very independently about heaven, religion and 'where we go' after death. So at the tender age of 7, I turned my pet cemetery into a archaeological 'dig', so I could examine the physical evidence of death.
Working at the shelter, the hardest part of the job is making the difficult decision of euthanasia. Its spiritually and emotionally draining to make these decisions, and I don't take them lightly. When I took the job, I knew that euthanasia was part of the job. We don't euthanize often, but in a open access shelter, its a reality. I made the decision that each dog that had to die was going to have as much dignity and respect that we could provide. They were going to have a wonderful meal of fast food and were going to be held with kindness, and hear loving words as they left this world and went onto the the next. That is a promise to the dogs that the staff has embraced. I have been present for every euthanasia except for 1 since November, and as hard as they are to do, its the kindess release we can give.
I think my grandmother had a full life and I think her release was a kind one surrounded by people who loved her. I hope there really is a 'rainbow bridge' and, if given the choice, I hope to end up there surrounded in death by the same lovely creatures I chose to spend my time with in life.

1 comment:

Jules said...

I am sorry to hear you lost your grandmother. It does sound like she left the world well loved and cared for. We should all be so lukc - human and animal alike.