Is empathically accompanying an animal at the end of its life the same as euthanizing it?
Article written by Dr. Stefano Cattinelli Veterinarian
When we talk about empathic accompaniment at the end of our animal's life it means that we have chosen not to euthanize it but to give it the opportunity to spontaneously die alone, when it wants.
"Alone and when he wants" means that there will be no pharmacological help or homeopathic remedy that will anticipate his death but that he will choose when to die.
I want to underline this passage because too many times I see that empathic accompaniment is confused with a path that inevitably ends with euthanasia.
No! Empathic accompaniment does not end with euthanasia.
The empathic accompaniment ends when the animal dies a natural death in his home surrounded by the love of those who accompanied him up to that moment.
Accompanying does not mean accompanying him to the vet to do the puncture but it means waiting for him to die when he decides.
In this article we will not deal with the issue of pain (already discussed in the following article: https://www.stefanocattinelli.it/single-post/2016/11/13/Le-basi-dellaccompagnamento-empatico-il-dolore ) but we will try to go deeper into the theme of the choice to make and what it means for the animal to die "when I decide or when he decides".
Here, just "when I decide or when he decides" is the theme of this article.
So let's start, without further preambles, taking into consideration the first part of the sentence and that is the one in which it is I who decide when my pet must die.
When it is I who choose for him.
If you stop for a moment to reflect on the roles that have always characterized the relationship with my animal, you immediately realize that "interpreting" the role of the one who chooses for the animal is an extremely habitual interior position.
I'm used to choosing for him.
I choose what to feed him; I choose when to feed him. I choose for him the hours in which we go for a walk, I choose the places where I can leave him free and I choose when to put him on the leash, I choose what kind of surgeries to perform them, what kind of therapy, such as pesticides or supplements and what kind of environment I can offer to make him spend his life in the best possible way.
At the origin of the relationship there is always an act, an action, towards him that comes from my choice.
Most likely, among the many puppies, I chose him and I also chose his name. Or I chose to confirm the name it already had.
Or, even if I met him "casually" along my way, it is I who have chosen to welcome him into my life.
“Interpreting” the role of the person who chooses is really used to me in relating with him.
This, of course, is an absolute good because the role of those who choose necessarily involves the development of ever greater levels of responsibility towards the animal that lives with me: trivially, starting from the questions I ask myself and the answers I find, I will be able to choose. a type of diet that is as appropriate as possible to the animal's biology and this will increase the animal's state of well-being.
The sense of responsibility is directly proportional to the well-being of the animal: the more I am responsible for its life, the more my pet will promote its level of well-being. This is a fixed point in the Human-Animal relationship.
We must know, however, that in the event of empathic accompaniment we come across a diametrically opposite experience.
Why am I speaking of a diametrically opposite experience?
Because empathic accompaniment is the path that guides us towards the experience which, by its nature, is the opposite of life and that is death.
It is that last piece of road we travel together, the most difficult, the most intense, the most emotionally engaging, the most devastating and at the same time, if done with awareness and presence, the most harbinger of change and transformation.
Paradoxically, the experience of his death, if lived to the full in the accompaniment, can truly represent a turning point in the life of each of us.
The first transformation, whether small or large, certainly lies precisely in the fact that at this juncture, since we go towards the experience that is opposite to life, I am asked to experience the exact opposite of what I have experienced up to that moment. .
If until now it was I who guided the relationship through my choices, in empathic accompaniment it is my animal who guides me through the mystery of his death.
This statement is absolutely not intended to be a provocation but rather represents the fruit of my twenty years of scientific-spiritual research in this field,
The more I will be able to abandon those parts of me that want to give direction to the event, that want to control it, that want to choose for the animal and the more the animal will have the opportunity to guide me in the most important event of its existence: the end of our love relationship.
After twenty years of experience in this field, I can say with certainty that animals know exactly how to die.
Through my attitude of acceptance of what is happening to it, step by step, having progressively abandoned the "controller" that is in me and allowing the animal to enter its last period of life in a fluid and progressive way, here I am I will realize that for the animal, death is really something natural; an event that he deeply accepts starting from the feeling that the physical forces are progressively diminishing.
The more we give him the time to get in touch with the decrease in physical strength, the vital energy that runs out and the more we create the basis so that he can "enter" more into the naturalness of his death.
Yes, because it is his death that we are talking about. I know it may sound absurd a statement like this ... but he only dies once.
So who, once again, has the greatest weight in the unfolding of this event?
Choosing to accompany an animal at the end of its life means choosing to "enter" a dimension of wisdom and infinite love that knows exactly the exact moment in which this experience must end.
To access this different level of experience, my "controller" has no other option than to leave the command post.
And then we will discover that in empathic accompaniment it is not I who decide; but it's not even him! Who "decides" is the Consciousness of the relationship between me and him which moves, with infinite Love, the conclusion of our relationship according to the times and modalities that make sense in my biography.
Only by fully going through the experience of my pet's death do I offer myself the possibility of accessing new levels of consciousness.
And of Love.
Thanks to him.