Part 2: Mediating the Caretaking Conversation Among Family:
One of the most important first steps to help prevent familial conflict is to plan a set time for everyone to sit down and have a quiet discussion of respectful communication, active listening, and validating all thoughts, feelings, and ideas. This should ideally be a time where everyone can feel relaxed and not worried about other activities. It is also important to maintain respectful communication at all times (through either taking turns talking or having a “talking stick”); respect is the key to understanding and properly validating one another’s opinions and may even require professional help (licensed therapist) if needed to keep a smooth pace. It may be crucial to instigate a mediator ahead of time to help keep this conversation flowing at a peaceful, purposeful tone, provide active listening, take planned breaks, and always establish a few rules ahead for proper communication (having a “no judgement rule” and “setting a limit”- creating an agreed upon number of steps for when euthanasia may be necessary). This discussion may also be beneficial with the involvement of your veterinarian as well, especially if decisions need to be met more urgently or one may require a more detailed understanding of your pet’s current medical ailment or illness.
As it is so important to always include children and teenagers in caretaking decisions for your pet, it is your own choice if you would like them to be present for all of this caretaking conversation (or just a small portion). People of all ages each carry a special loving bond with their family and should be able to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas for their pet, but may not fully understand their pet’s declining care or their parent’s emotional or financial stress. Involving them throughout euthanasia is always your own decision but helping them to create special ways to memorialize their pet will be very peaceful for both their memories and grieving process.
Throughout this conversation, it is always best to focus on each necessary topic: quality of life care, euthanasia, aftercare, and even memorialization and to circle back if the discussion strays away; it is so easy for all emotions to run high during this time, especially as we all love our pets so much and want them to be in peace with absolutely no pain or discomfort. One must always try to place their pet’s comfort level and quality of life above their own emotions and yearning to have them stay with us. No words can truly describe how heartbreaking it is to consider these choices and witness this pain through each family member, but it is up to us to have to make these choices for our best friend. No one should ever make these decisions impulsively and learning to share together in questions, concerns, and plans with one another can be very comforting to our heart and effective for our souls.
With these helpful tips for respectful familial support and mediation, you can sit down with your family and focus on what is more important: making a caretaking decision together for your furry friend that will help them feel more comfortable and at peace. It is always okay to lean on others for professional guidance through these familial communications. Understanding the difference of when it is best to talk amongst yourselves respectfully or when to seek professional guidance is especially necessary for this time and your pet’s overall future.
MN Pets offers updated grief support resources on our website and can help with steps to start this familial communication. https://www.mnpets.com/resources. Our Support Specialists are also available to offer help with resources at (612) 354-8500 during our phone support hours of 6am-7pm Monday through Friday and 6am-5pm Saturday and Sunday.