Today we had to say goodbye to our much-loved cat. He had become increasingly ill, and as this weekend approached it became clear that we had to make the tough decision to have him euthanised.
It was sad, but dignified.
There was no sign of distress. Following an injection, he went to sleep in my daughter’s arms while we spoke soft words of love into his fading feline-conscience. Some people might have described it as a beautiful moment, albeit a sad one.
After all the tears we shed and such comfort as a mother can provide her children during difficult times as this, I was left pondering the fact that we could not provide the same peaceful, clean death for the humans in our lives whom we loved and have also had to say goodbye to. Instead, we must watch loved ones suffer, both from pain and the emotional stress that comes with terminal illness. We watch them fade, often slowly, often alongside immeasurable distress.
I think we are privileged to have brilliant, professional teams of palliative care doctors and nurses in Australia, who provide the maximum level of care possible under current laws. I have personally witnessed their high standards of care. Still, we are left traumatised by the experience, not only of death, but also of the whole process of dying.
The process, starting with a terminal diagnosis, through to your loved one’s final exhalation of breath, is one that nothing on Earth can truly prepare us for.
I live in hope that some day, preferably within my life time, the terminally ill in my country will have the choice to die with more peace and comfort than is currently legally possible. I’m pro-euthanasia; I believe we should have the right to choose a better way to die.