Wednesday, October 18th 2017

How to say goodbye to an animal you’ve loved

An animal communicator talks about the complexities surrounding the decision to let your friend pass on

boy-and-dogGUEST COLUMN: KAREN ANDERSON — One of the most difficult decisions we will ever make is when to say goodbye to our beloved animal companions.

Those of you who have struggled with this painful decision know the ups and downs of your emotions, the guilt, the uncertainty and the sadness of it all.

You are not alone in your pain. I receive many calls from distraught humans in the same situation who just want to be sure the time is right.  Although their situations are each different and unique, the ultimate result is the same.

They have made the decision to end their animal’s life. . .

There are so many things to take into consideration with such an important decision.  I truly believe this is a personal endeavor.  I will never tell you when you should euthanize.  No one should. It should be a decision you make based on your own instincts, your animal’s needs, medical condition and input from a trusted veterinarian.

1. Take the animal’s wishes into consideration.

animal-goodbyeSome animals want to pass on their own, naturally.  Many times animals will distance themselves from us as their time approaches.  This is quite common in the animal kingdom.

Animals will go off by themselves; they will leave their pack, colony or herd to die alone.  This keeps predators from coming in to the rest of the group.

This is not a personal statement about you or their love for you. It is just their natural instincts playing out.

Checking in with your animal before they pass into the spirit world may provide you with insight and the information you need to make this crucial decision.  I always ask the animals if they would like to pass on their own, or if they would like assistance from the doctors. Their answer may surprise you, it’s not always what you think.

2.  Place the animal’s needs over and above your own needs.

None of us want to say goodbye.  It’s hard, it hurts, and we miss them so much.  Take a step back and look at your situation.

Are you keeping them here for yourself?  Is your animal struggling just to get through each day?

Can they get up, eat, drink, etc., on their own?

If they can’t do these things, their quality of life is greatly diminished.  Many animals talk about keeping their dignity and how they want to maintain their dignity even in passing into the spirit world.

3.  Ask them to give you a sign.

Most animals will let you know with a look, a sigh or some other type of sign that they are done with their struggle here on earth.

Often they just don’t seem like themselves anymore, they have lost that spark or that thing about them that made them so unique.

2-cute-guysOne important thing to remember animals don’t view a successful life in terms of how many years they spent here.  That is a human concept.  Animals view a successful life as the quality of their time, with you, on this earth.  Not the quantity of time.

This reminds me about a beautiful kitten named Timmy who died unexpectedly at only one year old.  He told us he was, ‘fulfilled and completely satisfied’ with his life.

Cherish, love and respect your animals each and every day while they are here with you.  When their time comes to leave this earth, honor their wishes, then celebrate their life and the memories you have shared.

Even in death your animals will always be connected to you, as the bonds of love never die.

karen-and-rainKaren Anderson, “America’s animal communicator,” and author of “Hear All Creatures” connects with animals both living and deceased. She is known worldwide for her consultations and classes.  Visit Karen’s site to learn more about her radio and TV appearances.  Karen’s previous article for Soul’s Code was Animal Love.

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16 Comments on “How to say goodbye to an animal you’ve loved”

  1. Great article, Karen. I am a professional pet sitter and have known many, many animals. I've seen people take heroic measures to keep their pets alive when it had gone well beyond being about the pet's needs. I will have to make the big decision with my dog in another year or two and I'm sure I won't be any better at it than anyone else. Though some would argue, I imagine it's not unlike losing a child. I hope I'll have the courage to do the right thing when the time comes....

  2. Hi Ellen,
    Thank you for your kind words. I just had to say goodbye to my cat, Honey in Feb. You can read what she did to help ME with her transition here:

    It had been a long time since I had to assist one of my animals with their passing and I had forgotten how difficult that decision was.

    Not only did I waver back and forth, I agonized over the decision.

    Some days were good, some were not so good.

    Most of us tend to wait too long before we say goodbye. We keep the animals here longer than we should. I am guilty of this too. It's hard to say goodbye.

    Taking heroic measures is fine if the animal is young or treatable or has a chance for a good long life but heroic measures when they are preparing to pass on is not always the way to go.

    I hope that when the time comes to say goodbye to your dog that you are able to create a loving, balanced and beautiful space for your dog to have it's last moments on earth.

    It is the greatest gift we can give them.

    I feel my animals are my children as I never had human children. A loss is still a loss whether it is human or animal and we still grieve and feel all that sorrow.

    I hope you have the courage too, I'm sure you will.

    Karen Anderson

  3. Thank you for writing this article Karen.

    When My dog Rani was ill, I asked people how I would know when the right time to let him go would be. I was told I would know. This was true. I did know when it was time, and was able to make the decision to free him from his pain. Trust your feelings, and Know your pets are still around you even after they pass.

  4. I know I have that decision to make very soon with my old guy who is 13-1/2 years old.

    It breaks my heart and will be one of the hardest things I will ever have to do.

    Jazz and I had a session with an animal communicator many years ago. She had not seen such a strong special bond between two hearts. We have been through a lot together. You can imagine my surprise during the session when she let me know that Jazz wanted to know why I didn't sing anymore, and that he really felt the need to be here for me.

    I have told him many times it is okay if he needs to go. I will miss him, but I will be ok, just as I had to tell my dad a few weeks ago.

    I kissed him and said 'it's okay Dad, you don't need to fight anymore.
    You gave it your best shot.' Within minutes he was at peace.

  5. Karen,

    You did a great job as always. I know I would not have been able to give my babies their wings to fly if it hadn't been for you and your help. We know in our own hearts when it is time to let go. There comes a moment when you know your own sorrow cannot interfere with the suffering of your beloved pet. It is never easy, no matter how many times you have to do it. It doesn't get easier, but you feel a peace that your baby isn't suffering anymore.

    Thank you for your wonderful work!
    Love & Hugs!
    Darleen Speirs

  6. Thank you for that very helpful article Karen. It is such a hard decision to make and it really helps to have some "guidelines" to help us feel we have done the right thing for our fur babies. As always, you are right on the mark!


  7. Karen is doing great things for all animal lovers and their pets. Saying goodbye is a traumatic, sad and overwhelming experience. Thank goodness we have people like Karen than can empathize, educate and guide us through it. Keep up the good work Karen!

  8. Thank you Karen for a wonderful's unavoidable, but yet so sad...My first Golden had a certain look and I just knew, even though I wasn't ready, she surely was...I took a picture of her that day, and still today, that picture brings all the tears right back...the best thing we can do for them is let them go with their dignity, after all, they give us so much more than we could ever give them!

  9. When my Yorkie Scootie was diagnosed with necrotizing encephalitis I knew that life as I knew it was over for me. He had been my Velcro puppy, my soul-puppy for ten years, since the day he was born on my bed, a surprise, since his dad had been neutered when his mom came into heat. I fortunately had time to prepare for Scootie's death. At one time we had had six Yorkies running around the house, and with Scootie's death that would only leave BeBe alone, and I knew she would miss her brother terribly.

    We took him in for an MRI on Dec. 8, expecting to be told that the reason he was losing function in his back limbs was a narrowing in his spine, only to find out it was necrotizing encephalitis and that his brain was dying and folding in on itself. He was gone by Jan. 18. I begged for more time with him, but I lived each and every day he was with me to the very fullest. I stayed up nights with him, fed him special foods, held him and just looked into his eyes and had heart to heart talks without saying a word. Sometimes we laughed together, sometimes we cried.

    When it came close to time for him to go I contacted an animal communicator to see if it really was time, because I was nowhere near ready. Bob always thought I told the communicators too much and that they weren't really getting the stuff they were getting, so when I picked Karen I let him tell her just what he thought she needed (which wasn't much at all). She hit everything on the nail and then some. Then she followed up afterwards to see how I was doing, since she told us during the session that he really did want to pass over because he'd been using up all his energy to hang on for my sake. Talk about a burden for him, her and me.

    One of the things Karen from Scootie is that he was so sad that he had brought such sadness to Bob and I. He used to bring us only smiles, he said, and now he brought me only tears and it was breaking his heart. Then he showed her a picture of a heart and tore it in two and gave one half to me and kept the other for himself.

    One thing Karen taught me is that when our animals are suffering and preparing to cross over we need to fill them up with happiness, even though our hearts are breaking. When I asked if it was time to say good-bye to Scootie, Karen told us that he was ready, but very tired and that he needed to be filled up for the journey across. So I spent the weekend filling him up with hugs and cuddles and sharing of stories about his escapades so we could laugh together, since he'd said he was sad about not bringing me laughter any more. So I made it a point that weekend to just hold him and tell him funny stories about his life with us so we could laugh. If I had to cry, I did it somewhere else. I filled him up with as much love and laughter as I could for the journey.

    I know how hard it is to do when we're suffering and we're used to having the dogs there to cuddle with as our support system, but when she told me that, my fierce mamabear came out and I was able to pull it together for him. It was probably the hardest thing I think I ever had to do, because my heart was breaking, shattering into a million pieces and being forcefully ripped from my body, making it hard to breathe. But I was able to concentrate on making him happy and comfortable and I got through it.. So that's my experience.

    I've also learned, in my journey with my own dogs and many fosters, when it's time to let go. With the first few I have to admit I held on too long and tried too many extraordinary measures to try to keep them alive. But with each experience I learned to let go a little sooner and listen a little more clearly for them to tell me when it's time. At first I ignored the signs and signals even though they were loud & clear because I wasn't ready for the pain. Then I realized how unfair I was being to my trusted friends and have learned to suck it up and let them go when I hear the message the first time. Karen has been invaluable about reinforcing that what I'm hearing really is what my friend is telling me. What a jewel she is.

  10. What a beautiful article, and what a great reminder about what is important to our animals. Karen was a wonderful help to me when I lost my beloved kitty Ruby, and although it was a very painful time, it was comforting to know I made the right decision. I will always put my animals' needs above my own so they don't ever suffer.

  11. Angie, I understand what you are going through, trust in your guy, he'll tell you when and what to do.

    I had to do this with my darling Jacques. The message I received back, after he peacefully crossed was one of sheer joy that I had done the right thing and that he would always be there whenever I needed strength or help. It does help to know this, even though we still grieve.

    My thoughts are with you.

  12. Karen,

    As always you said it all, and I can testify you are right on mark, I remember BeBe's passing and even though I might have had other plans she took her passing out of our hands, by passing just as we got to the acute care clinic. She just said, "This is all I can take, know I love you, but the pain is great and the joy is gone, love you and good bye" then she just went limp. How so very true to determine your pets wishes and if you are trying to keep them here for you or because there is a chance of improvement.

    I just know with all our furry friends, you have been there to share your thoughts and let us know exactly want our pets were telling us. And I agree you have never told us we should do anything, you have only told us want our pets were saying.

    Love to you and much white light and for always being there when Valerie and I need you.



  13. Hi Karen,
    After reading your informative article it's easy to see how much you truly understand animals. Seems like all of us have been there at one time or another and have had to part with a pet and it's never easy. Thank you for your insight and wisdom.

  14. Letting a beloved pet go is one of the hardest things to. I really appreciate the approach Karen takes of respecting the pet. We so often get caught up in own emotions don't respect the needs or wants of the one we love the most. Thank you Karen.

  15. Wow, this resonated with me greatly. Lost two of our eight lovely dogs within 2 weeks of each other. Mr. Bud and Ms. Gazoo were our darling older dogs that brought such joy and life to our home. There dog brothers and sisters (soul and biological) miss them greatly as do we. They gave us many signs and we respected what they wanted from us, one wanted more space the other wanting to be held. We also lost Mr. BamBam last year, who sired five litters with Ms. Gazoo. They had boundless energy and fun and shared that easily with us. What a blessing to have them in our lives. I talk to them and wish them well on their journey, those characters. Love and peace out to them and to you for your great article Karen. Sue Freeman

  16. Yes, to lose a pet really taps the heart & tests the soul.

    A very wonderful Buddhist site that I found to be helpful & comforting when my beloved cat passed just 2 years ago is:

    You can post a tribute there for a small fee or just go and feel connected with others who love animals.

    blessings*, Shanti

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