Too Many Decisions on the Road to the Rainbow Bridge
by Jamie Spannhake
March 21, 2021
The time has come to let my dog Samantha pass over the rainbow bridge. If you haven't heard that phrase before, it's the language that refers to the dying of a pet who crosses over to the afterlife, which is full of green fields, squirrels to chase, peanut butter, and love.
We had our consultation with the end-of-life care vet a few days ago, and things have declined significantly since then. Samantha can no longer get up on her own and is not eating. She told me this morning it is time for her to go.*
(*You may not think our dogs talk to us, and that's okay. Anyone I know who has gone through this experience says their dog let them know when it was time. That's my experience too.)
When we met with the vet last week, I felt overwhelmed by the many options we have: more medication, different herbs, let her go that day, wait until later, add antibiotics, change her food. Ultimately, the question is to either let her suffer until she dies, or perform a final act of mercy to give her freedom from pain and a body that no longer works.
My thought was: there are too many choices and I don't know what to do.
My ten-year-old daughter Sarah, who has been part of these discussions, said: "I like that the vet is giving us so many choices. We get to decide."
Two very different perspectives.
I think we as adults often suffer from "decision fatigue." We make so many decisions every day. Sometimes I just want people to tell me what to do. That was my experience with the vet: just tell me what to do because I don't know what is best. I don't know what to do.
But for children, who often feel that others are making many of the decisions that affect their lives, the plethora of options was a good thing.
I'm glad Sarah made her comment to me. It reminded me that I live in a country and place and time where I have the opportunity to make decisions about my life and the world around me.
To be able to decide to set my little Samantha free from pain and a failing body is a gift. She has lived a long, full, and fun life of 17 and half years. She has been with me through moves, marriage, divorce, fertility treatments, new jobs, a miscarriage, and a baby.
Thank you, Samantha. I love you. May you find many squirrels to chase as you run through the fields on the other side of the rainbow bridge.