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Death and Dying: Hope's Final Chapter

Our little cat Hope continued to be my teacher throughout her short time with us.   As I have written in previous  posts, Hope came to us under difficult circumstances and we both faced these hurdles together.  Her strong personality and unusual health challenges presented a new level of learning for me in terms of animal illnesses, as well as how to cope with them.
 
Hope's dying was no different.  Throughout the time she was with us, I made three appointments with our vet to have her put to sleep and all three times I cancelled and was glad I did.  The first two times she bounced back and the last time, I just felt she needed to die in her own time. 
 
In the US and other developed countries, we live in a world that shies away from death.  We really don't want to see the process, particularly with our animals.  In the wild, animals die under a variety of circumstances-- some slowly and some quickly but it's always a natural part of the cycle of life.  In the human world, we have a tendency to put our animal companions to sleep when they start showing signs of aging rather than letting them go through the dying process. 
 
My experiences with both wild and domestic animals has taught me how important it is for an animal to chose its own time to die.  My vegetable garden has also taught me that in the dying of certain plants used as green manure in a garden, other plants live and grow stronger because  they nurture the soil and the system as a whole.  The plants that die and create fertile soil are equally as important as those that eventually bear food.  What's missing sometimes is our understanding of this process of timing and collaboration, combined with our judgment of what death is.  Death is simply transformation into another form of energy and what's often lacking is our understanding as to how it all fits into the overall scheme of things.
 
"Despise not death, but welcome it, Nature wills it like all else." 
   --Marcus Aurelius
 
A friend of mine once said to me "dying is alot of work," as we were discussing the issue of when is it appropriate to euthanize a pet.  Having experienced many of her beloved animals passing, her view was that while it's sometimes stressful to experience, it was nevertheless important not to interfere and to do everything you can to make them comfortable while they're doing their final work.  Despite the fact it's emotionally very difficult for me to view an animal dying and it never gets any easier, I agree with her.  I also don't advocate pain, but I think it's important to go through all the steps of letting go.  Our animal companions need to go through their dying process and we need to go through it with them.  Euthanasia is the simple, relatively painless, way out for both of us.
 
 
One day it became clear to me that, although she was still eating, Hope was beginning to leave.  It was a slow, steady process and although several times I questioned my decision to let her die in her own way, I stayed the course with her.  I remembered my own words written in my last post about the Garden of Life.  I simply couldn't second guess myself because intuitively I felt we both had to go through this process toward completion. What I experienced during those nine days was a wide range of emotions for me and a series of changes within Hope. 
 
Due to her Alzheimer's condition during the last few months, Hope's personality had changed significantly and she would go through her boughts of being disoriented and unfamiliar with me as well as the other cats.  She had also lost her affectionate personality which was so sad.  Her mind was elsewhere and sometimes she would wander aimlessly.  I felt she was already detaching from the confines of her body and she would spend most of her time sleeping.
 
As I saw Hope go through various different phases during the process of her leaving, I too, experienced a wide range of emotions.  I thought of the parallels between our lives.  Although the time Hope had come to live with us was just 11 months, there was such a similarity between our lives.  There was no doubt Hope had been through alot when she came to us and despite that, she was one of the sweetest cats we've had.  It was as though whatever humans had done to her, she still had faith in them.  And whatever challenges she was presented with, she remained resilient-- determined to overcome yet the latest of health issues.  Although I hadn't experienced the health issues she had, I had experienced a tremendous amount of personal and professional challenges over the last 10 years and regardless of what I was hit with, I pressed on determined to live my life authentically by staying true to myself and my beliefs.  And with Hope's passing, I felt a new chapter of my life beginning.
 
I was also reminded of another death I experienced with an injured songbird that had died almost exactly 10 years ago.  The process was the same.  I would see and feel the energy of the bird move through its body, stretching its wings to fly seemingly to pass at that moment and fly one last time.  But to my surprise, the bird would then pull in its wings and continue breathing.  This process went on for many hours until finally it took it's last flight, spreading it's wings and then its spirit was gone.  At the time this happened, I had no idea that a tiny bird could go through such an elaborate process of dying, but each time I could feel the spirit's pull on the body that kept it here on earth.  Hope went through this same process.  I could see her life force moving through the lower chakras of her body which held her grounded on earth and she would move her legs as if to run away.  This process went on for several days alternating with vocalizations and periods of deep sleep despite the fact she had stopped meowing for several months. 
 
Several years ago while talking to a friend about the last few weeks of her father's life in Hospice, she told me that her father relived his memories of WWII during that time.  She was astounded by his ramblings because he had never spoken about much of these experiences during his lifetime.  It had all been held within the confines of his body and mind.  I felt that during the death process he was releasing much of these painful memories and this in effect was releasing imprints held within his body.  I believe animals experience this same thing.
 
There were many nights I thought (and hoped) Hope would pass, but she didn't and I questioned what I had allowed her to go through.  Euthanasia would have been much quicker and yet, I truly believed she needed to complete this part of her journey.  Hope had had such a wide range of health problems.  I was convinced that in going through the death process, she would in essence be bringing to completion all the issues she had been resolving here on Earth during this lifetime. 
 
I had been working with homeopathy to release the imprints held within her body and there had been many.  Vibrational medicine is the key to the lock of that which is held deep inside all of us.  I've never had an animal resonate with and be helped by so many different homeopathic remedies as with Hope, each one releasing a different level of imbalance from her body.  I also used a wide range of flower essences with Hope, particularly in her final moments.  Because Hope did not want to be touched at one point, I gave her a high potency of Arnica (leopard's bane) to help with her transition.  When she shifted again and allowed me to pet her but became restless and no longer ate, I changed over to Arsenicum Album.  Both of these remedies in high potencies can help ease the transition of a dying animal's final moments. 
 
Hope had been unique, both in her living and her dying.  She also had immediately been accepted by the other cats who nurtured her during her stay with us.  It was as if, they had known her all along.  I've never seen a new cat be accepted so easily by others.  All the vibrational essences I had used with Hope-- both homeopathic and flower/mineral essences, had been clearing her energy field throughout the last year of her life right through to the last remedies used for her transition.  Who knows how many lifetimes, these remedies may have cleared?  Hope also affected the imprints held within her family of origin-- the cat clan she had been born into.  Whatever she had inherited from her ancestors had the potential to be cleared by the use of all these vibrational essences.
 
In the end, I was right there during Hope's passing.  Although her eyes had been closed for the last few days, she opened them widely one last time as though seeing the light before her and took one last breath.  And then she died in peace in the comfort of her warm, snugly sleeping bag in the last home that had shown her kindness. 
 
I will always remember Hope for her enthusiam, tremendous affection and love for life.  Despite being blind and deaf during her last months, Hope managed to play like a kitten once more right up until the last few weeks of her life tossing her toy mouse around, much to our amazement.  It was truly inspirational to know that her senses were still so acute that she managed this feat one last time.  Hope died as she had lived-- an inspiration to us all.
 
"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words and never stops at all."   -- Emily Dickinson
 
Blessings of Hope!
 
Copyright 2011 Awen Environments.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

6 Comments to Death and Dying: Hope's Final Chapter:

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Ron Laswell on Saturday, July 23, 2011 5:13 PM
Hi Clarissa. Isn't it funny how we associate life's end with "suffering"? As a young man working at a county nursing home, I thought that the indignities that we put those people through (torture?)were more horrific than their actual passing. I have to hand it to you, it takes a lot of compassion to be so patient with a dying animal.
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Clarissa on Sunday, July 24, 2011 11:24 AM
Thanks for writing, Ron. There's no doubt that dying with dignity has all but been forgotten within our culture.


Eileen Kelz on Sunday, July 24, 2011 10:55 AM
Clarissa, what a beautiful story and tribute to Hope. I have wrestled with very thing so many times with my 4 legged loved ones. I admit that Ive always gone the euthenasia route because i couldn't take them suffering but you have added a new light for me to consider.
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Clarissa on Sunday, July 24, 2011 11:26 AM
I'm glad you enjoyed the article and found a new perspective to think about, Eileen. I'm confident that Hope came here to teach us all.


sushant on Thursday, July 18, 2013 6:29 AM
I found lots of interesting information here. The post was professionally written and I feel like the author has extensive knowledge in this subject.
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Gary Kutcher on Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:04 PM
Clarissa, Thank you for this moving and beautiful story. I admire the kindness and courage you and Hope shared. I'm sure you were both blessed by the experience you shared!
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