As a healer, I came to the conclusion a long time ago that a healer has two jobs. One… to support people and animals to have the best life possible and Two… to support them for the sweetest death possible.
Death is the one sure thing in life, hey? So why do we in the west particularly, so often deal with death so poorly? Why are we so often scared? Remind me if I forget – one day I’ll tell you the story of why I’ll never be afraid of death again – but today it’s my privilege to bring you a lovely guest post that will help you on this subject, from Mary Walby who is the founder of God’s Window Senior Horse Rehab.
It’s my experience that death can be beautiful
When we give our beloved four legged friends the gift of keeping them to the end of their lives, it’s a fact that we’re going to be dealing with death. And it’s my experience that death can be beautiful.
Mary’s thought provoking post brings you the gift of being able to use your connection to your horse and your own unique knowledge of them, to the end of life process – whether we choose to ease a difficult dying by putting them to sleep or whether we can provide a comfortable palliative care like Mary is talking about here.
“The top ten things that Maya taught me about death and dying.” That’s Maya’s butt on the left in the photo above.
I rehab senior horses, and last summer a mare named Maya came to me in retirement in hopes that we could solve her life-threatening health issues. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, and she died three months later. Looking back I always had hope, and we always had non-invasive treatment options so I never called it hospice. I see now that it was.
It’s been six months to the day since Maya died. She has given me the most thorough education on death and dying in horses. I had no idea what I was in for.
Here are the Top 10 Things she taught me about death and dying in horses:
1. I can be in pain and still be happy to be alive.
2. Just because I’m in pain does not mean I want to die.
3. No need to fix. After a horse has died, leave the body on the property for a couple days and allow access for the other herd members to do whatever they need to do. This will hugely benefit the natural grieving process for both the people and the animals.
4. Allow dying to happen on its own time frame. If a horse has not died yet, but is dying, support the dying process, but you do not need to expedite it. Why has an animal not died yet? You’ll have to ask them. They likely have unfinished business we are unaware of.
5. Just show up and BE.
6. Educate yourself about what dying looks like. Then when you witness it, you’ll understand what is happening. When you understand, you can then be of service to the horse. Here’s some links that will help you with this: Leaving this Life, in Rhythm with Nature by Ella Bittel and The last few days – what to expect by Gaurdian Angel Hospice
7. Massage, acupuncture points and Ttouch ear slides can be helpful. (Jenny: Robyn Hood of TTouch fame is going to give us her favorite video for ear slides. I’ll add that when she sends it to me.) Massaging above the eyes can be helpful for managing pain holistically, even debilitating pain.
8. Aromatherapy with essential oils can be helpful. Lavender can have a calming effect. Frankincense can help with the transition process of dying. Flower essences on the tips of the ears is another helpful option.
9. Practice breathing, relaxing and feeling the ground. Practice allowing what is happening. If you believe in God, ask God to help you. You are holding space for a natural process. There is no need to fix it. This is the transition every being on earth will take at the end of their life. It is sacred, and every being’s process will be unique. By honoring their unique process, you are honoring them.
10. Find support ahead of time of people who share your views on death and dying, so when dying begins to take place, you will know who to call to support you in witnessing the dying process. You do not need to do this alone. Trust your instincts and your relationship with your horse, even if it differs from other people’s opinions. Give the best that you have. Nothing more and nothing less. This is love in action.
“This is the transition every being on earth will take at the end of their life. It is sacred, and every being’s process will be unique.” Every being’s path to death will be as unique as they are and their lives are. Every combination of horse and person will be as unique too.
“Trust your instincts and your relationship with your horse, even if it differs from others’ opinions.”
Listen to your own inner guidance system. No one will know you and this horse as well as you will when you are listening to your own soul’s guidance. I’ve been able to Hold Space for the dying, but only through listening to my own inner guidance system. It’s a special gift to be able to give.
When Mary talks about allowing the animal to die in their own time frame – for me that includes easing them into death when that’s their choice too.
Being able to KNOW which direction is the right one and when is the right time if you need to get the vet or someone else to help – you need to be able to communicate with your horse or other animal and doing that for the first time under stress is not the ideal way to make such a decision. We have an animal communication program on our training page that might help.
“Give the best you have – nothing more and nothing less.” You ARE enough…
“This is love in action.”
Love in action indeed.
We have a lovely, centering breathing lesson in 21 Days to a Quiet Mind – Horse Meditations – a type of breathing that will help you find your center in a difficult situation. I’m happy to gift that lesson to anyone in these circumstances, just email me if you’d like that lesson.
Also, I support people and animals with reiki healing for these and other special moments and consider it a privilege at such a special time to make a gift of that energy. Email me should you need that too. You might even want to look at reiki training for yourself – that’s also on our training page.