My wife and I had to make the incredibly hard decision of whether to put our beloved dog Totty down earlier this month. In doing so, one of the hardest emotions my head had to grapple my heart on was forgiveness: who has the right to take another’s life with such speed and ease?
It doesn’t matter how hard the head tries to tell us it’s compassionate and respectful towards our pet, our hearts were heavy with indecision.
Euthanasia is clear in many people’s minds. Unless someone is particularly religious, it’s rare I come across anyone who is against it. But the decision to actually do it plays profoundly on people’s hearts and minds.
Finding a way to ease my heavy heart, I was led to ask myself what life is. More than simply breathing and having brain activity, surely in its true form, life has to be so much more than that? Presence, joy, painlessness; these are just a few words that must define quality of life. And when a being is robbed of these in the long term, shouldn’t it more empathetic to let them go?
Nature can be brutal, but should we deny the infirm that escape because of domesticity? Isn’t euthanasia simply a more ‘humane’ way of delivering what nature would have otherwise handed down more cruelly?
I doubt this sensitive subject will be discussed by society any time soon, but as my heart is now coming to realise, being able to deny my true friend the indignity of dementia was the most precious gift I could have bestowed on such a loving soul. And, however hard it was, I was grateful for the opportunity of being brave enough to show my love for our 15 years of friendship in that way. May you rest in peace, my love.