From Linda's Desk
Animal Hospice and Conscious Euthanasia
Linda Tellington-Jones, PhD (Hon)
TTEAM Connections Volume 16 Issue 1 January-March 2014
When I returned home in November and discovered that our beloved Westie, Rayne, could not even pick her head up to greet me, I knew that leaving her to die a natural death was no longer an option. However, because of my support and respect and appreciation for what Ella Bittel has done to create awareness for animal hospice, I felt very guilty that I would choose euthanasia for Rayne. And for a few days I actually considered keeping that private. Thank Heaven that idea did not last long and I realized that this important issue deserves discussion. When an animal is suffering or a person has no possibility of adequate palliative of care, I believe conscious euthanasia is the kindest choice possible.
Rayne had been slipping downhill for the better part of a year. She had suffered from seizures and fallen into our pool twice and was so hot we could not give her relief in spite of three really good veterinarians who have known her most of her life and were consulting about this issue.
She had made big improvements when we were home for the summer, but this fall her condition was very sad. When we returned she could not hear, nor see, and if she wandered into a corner, she could not find her way out and would stand there whimpering for help. Her respiration was running over 100 for hours. TTouch helped but she was clearly in pain in spite of TTouch and Chinese Herbs from Dr. Nakaya. We had two caregivers living with her in our home while we were gone and our holistic vet was on call and making visits almost weekly to check on her.
Calling For Help of Animal Communicator, Miranda Alcott
This was not the quality of life this vibrant Westie had known for 14 years. I had to know how Rayne felt about living in this condition.
So I called my friend, animal communicator, Miranda Alcott. Miranda has known Rayne almost all her life and has checked in with her several times over the years. Rayne told Miranda clearly that she was angry. That she could not do her job of caring for my heart -- that her body no longer supported her in the work she was here to do -- to look after me.
When asked if she wanted help going, she responded with a positive "yes." When asked how soon, she replied, "In three sunsets." I began to treasure every moment of those remaining three days with her. Each time I carried her up and down stairs to go outside I inhaled deeply her sweet smell and treasured each step as I held her against my heart.
Uncertainty Set In and I Requested a Soul Reading
On the second day I was not sure of my decision. And so I called Trish Regan who does Soul Readings. I have done these readings several years at the beginning of a new year and they have always been uplifting.
Trish began the reading by seeing a vision of Rayne running up a mountain and waiting frequently for me to catch up. When she arrived at the top she had a gift of a Golden Ball of Light for me. I plan to post this in its entirety on my blog.
Then Trish asked for guides to answer my question of whether to help Rayne leave her body, The Divine Mother and Archangel Metatron appeared. I asked if Archangel Metatron has a message to those who are facing the decision of whether to help their animal pass through the veil or allow them to take their last breath on their own.
Archangel Metatron's Response
"Metatron says that you can tell those who come to this decision that they will always know in their hearts. When it comes to the point of suffering or when an animal is losing their consciousness, it is a divine gift to help them cross to the other side. Go into your heart to ask the question of your dear one. Do not feel in any way that you are doing anything wrong or interrupting their life patterns because with the modern way you can relieve your loved ones of their suffering or lack of consciousness. They know they are spirits just like you are. They know it is just going to the other side of the veil. Do not judge yourself or allow any guilt to enter in. If it is time to send them on their way, it is fine and a gift to your divine pet." (If you are interested in a Soul Reading you can visit Trish online or visit Dolphin Spirit of Hawaii.)
I felt much better, but just two hours before Dr. Nakaya was scheduled to arrive to help Rayne cross through the veil, I again had my doubts. So I called Miranda Alcott again and asked her to please check in with Rayne.
Rayne's mood was completely different this time. She was ecstatic to be going to a place where she would once again be in a state of exuberance and health. I could feel the shift and a lightness lifted from my heavy heart. (You can check out Miranda's website, In a Different Voice. I highly recommend you contact a communicator you know and trust for this decision.)
Rayne at peace and on her way to the "next event" - a term used by Hawaiian teacher Auntie Mahealani Henry to describe the next lifetime. Rayne's vet for the past eight years, Dr. Shannon Nakaya, came to our home. Rayne lay in her bed in our living room when she was given an injection to put her in a deep state of relaxation before the final drug that stopped her heart and released her to cross the Rainbow Bridge.
Animal Hospice and SpiritsInTransition.org
The concept of hospice for animals is relatively new. I feel it is particularly important in this day and age when, for many people, a beloved animal has the same place in their heart as a human family-member. In a survey in 2013, sixty-four percent of the people interviewed said their primary source of affection was an animal. That fact gives end-of-life care a new meaning in this 21st century.
Animal hospice was conceived of by veterinarian, Dr. Ella Bittel, and popularized by her workshops and comprehensive online training for hospice care that you can find at Spirits In Transition.
Following an ancient tradition of keeping vigil for three days, Rayne's body lay in honor in our living room for 24 hours after her passing. This waiting period was very rich and gave me the time to remember and to inform her friends around the world of her passing.
I had the good fortune to be closely connected to Ella during the conception and development of animal hospice, and I was a presenter at the third annual animal hospice conference at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Honoring our animals with conscious end-of-life-care raises consciousness and gives us practice in this inevitable process of life. However, I am not convinced that allowing an animal to die a natural death is always the kindest thing to do - perhaps because "death" for me is not the end of the story. Death is but a phase of the journey of the soul.
The phrases "Passing through the Veil," "Crossing the Rainbow Bridge," and the Hawaiian concept of end-of-life as simply "Changing Addresses" are much more descriptive and appropriate for me then the word "Death" which carries a finality that is not a part of my understanding or belief.
Reading the book, Life After Life by Dr. Raymond Moody, Jr. two decades ago when it was first published made me realize, without a shadow of a doubt, that we do simply "change addresses," we don't just fade into dust when we leave the physical body behind.
I was raised on a farm where birth, life and death is like the passing of the seasons, and I have had many personal experiences crossing through the Veil in past-life regressions, I've practiced Robert Monroe's Soul Retrieval workshops and had the privilege of participating in a workshop with Robert Monroe personally at Esalon Institute in 1974.
The waiting gave me time to deeply experience the loss of her physical being and transmute that feeling to the knowing that she is snuggled securely in my heart, now able to accompany me everywhere I go. Each time I passed her I felt an expansion of my heart and an indescribable depth of love.
What was different this time was the feeling of the expansion of my heart from the love I had felt for Rayne and from her over these 14 years. It brought a quality of the deepest appreciation and enrichment from her passing that was definitely different.
Losing a beloved animal friend can be a devastating experience without preparation and support. During the days leading to Rayne's transformation I was in almost daily contact with Lisa Leicht in Switzerland as her beautiful Jack Russell, Golfie, stopped eating and prepared for her departure. And during that time Sandy Rackowitz was torn by the question of whether to support a natural passing of her precious dog, Haley, who was suffering from last stage of cancer, or help her to cross the Rainbow Bridge.
In the communication with Miranda Alcott, Rayne asked me to cut a snippet of hair from above her eyes and keep it in the locket close to my heart. The snippet of hair rests in a mother-of-pearl enamel box waiting for a special heart-shaped locket. Rayne was surrounded on the altar by an angel, a fairy and a unicorn with a candle we kept burning for three days after the departure of her spirit. I am hoping that some one of you will have a golden locket in your dresser drawer that you have not worn for many years and would like to sell to me to carry Rayne's snippet of hair.
The words of wisdom from Archangel Metatron were comforting: "When it comes to the point of suffering or when they are losing their consciousness, it is a divine gift to help them cross to the other side. So go into your heart to ask the question of your dear one. Do not feel in any way you are doing anything wrong or interrupting their life patterns. Because with the modern way you can relieve your loved ones of their suffering or lack of consciousness. They know they are spirits just like you are. They know it is just going to the other side of the veil. Do not judge yourself or allow any guilt to enter in. If it is time to send them on their way it is fine and a gift to your divine pet."
A quote from our Hawaiian spiritual teacher, Kumu Mahealani Henry has been a help to many: "There is one absolute law on this planet. You don't get off alive."
If you are uncertain about this issue of life and death, I recommend the book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Dr. Eben Alexander.
We buried her in our yard with a baby banana tree at the head of her grave.
I feel this issue of end-of-life care and choice is a part of Rayne's legacy. The three-day ceremony we created for her transition was opportunity to share the love we feel for her and to honor her life by creating a memorable bon voyage. I hope this example will inspire you to create your own good-bye in ways that are uplifting and prepare a permanent place in your heart.
Rayne's Bon Voyage Parting
We said good-by to Rayne at sunset on Friday, December 6th. Six friends joined us to celebrate her life and talk-story with champagne and pupu's (Hawaiian hors d'oeuvres).
We kept her with us on ice and flowers for 24 hours after her spirit left her body and before burial as we celebrated her transition -- deeply experiencing the pain in our hearts at the loss of her physical being -- and transforming that feeling of loss to the joy of knowing that her spirit is free and she is snuggled securely in our hearts, now able to accompany me everywhere I go.
As we were burying Rayne, Stevie van Emmines, who had been a primary caregiver for Rayne for the last year, was sitting on the beach connecting with Rayne and asking her to stay connected and be a guide. Suddenly the sunset over Kailua-Kona turned magical. First a pink cloud produced a sundog . . .
. . . and this rainbow appeared.
The 24-hour vigil we kept until the next sunset was cathartic. I sat with her, remembering, writing her story, organizing photos, and informing her friends around the world.
At the end of the three day vigil I was not ready to let go. So I made another altar that stayed with us until the end of December. Of course, there were periods for more than a month when I would suddenly burst into body racking sobs without warning, but the tears were quickly transformed to gratitude for the love and enthusiasm and spirit this small white being brought to our lives.
That attitude of gratitude was a saving grace and was enriched by keeping her present in the form of an altar right in the living room. I loved the angel wings and the Golden Ball which was the gift Rayne gave me at the end of the meditation.
I love this painting that was sent to us with Rayne sitting at the bottom of the stairway to heaven and all the doggy friends waiting. I know they are all waiting for us when we make our final transition, and I am looking forward to the reunion.
There is still so many times when Roland and I look for her to come to bed with us or sometimes we just imagine her being here with us. We have her photograph on the altar with our parents' pictures and her presence and her love is a huge part of our lives.
After her physical body was covered with flowers in our garden, I put her bed in the same spot in our living room and continued to feel her presence so strongly from these beautiful photos taken by Daniela Zurr.
In Bruce Lipton's latest book, The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth, he discusses the healing effect that loving relationships between couples have on the planet. I believe relationships with our animals, based on mutual respect, understanding, tolerance, compassion and gratitude also has a positive influence on peace on our planet. By honoring the passage of our beloved animals to the "next address" we also contribute to peace on the planet.
If you have an end-of-life story you would like to share, I am putting together a small self-published book about end-of-life experiences. Just remember that your stories can help others who care to share.