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Saying Goodbye

So how do we know when it’s time to say goodbye?

Over the years I’ve spoken to many people about this…people who were agonizing over a decision yet to be made, and others who were in anguish over a decision that might have been made too soon, or one that should have been made earlier.

What I think is this – it is an excruciating decision, whenever it is made. We shouldn’t have to be in the position of ending a life…it just feels wrong. But our animal companions depend on us to make the “right” decisions on their behalf, and for many people that means deciding when the journey together is over. We look into their trusting eyes and say “It’s ok…if it’s time for you to go I understand.” But we really don’t understand, and we don’t feel ok. We feel terrified, lost and alone, hoping we’ll wake up from this nightmare and see that our furry friend is well and young….the journey just beginning.

I was talking with someone about the end of Jake’s life, and how he was better one day and worse the next. I said the reality is that often at the end it’s not a straight downhill slope – there are peaks and valleys, and it’s the peaks that make it so hard to know what to do. We become desperate. Do we hang on? Do we wait one more day? We want as many more “todays” as we can have with our critters.

In looking back, I realized that whether I lost Jake on a Wednesday, or Friday, or we put it off until the following week really didn’t matter. It was going to be as heartbreaking next week as it would be tomorrow. What DID matter is the relationship we shared. Did we do everything we were meant to do together? At the end did we really know….I mean deep down in the core of our being know….that this journey was complete and it was time to let go?

That’s what I knew about Jake. I knew our time together was not measured in days or weeks or years, but in….forever. We had known each other always and would be together for all time. In remembering that I found peace.



posted on July 29, 2006 Reply

Chris, the accounts you have written are so beautiful that you again have me in tears for the beauty of your words. Your relationship with Jake is reflected in all you say and it means so much to those of us who love our fur kids and have faced the same situations. Thank you for your insight into the true meaning of love for an animal.

posted on May 13, 2007 Reply

It has been three months since I made the ultimate decision for my 16 year-old forever kitty boy, Pursy. The separation has been beyond pain as I battle the myriad of feelings and emotions. Your forever gift of expressing in beautiful, loving words the feelings of my soul works as a salve for my wounded heart. Thank you for reminding me of forever, tender memories as I finish my mortal journey to eventually be reunited with my precious P-Boy.

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