Reframing Death

Years and years ago, I worked at a veterinary clinic. We took in the idea that cats died of renal failure in stride. A cat with signs of renal failure could often live for years, or not. It was part of life.

In the last few years I hear people talking about their cats in renal failure as dying. I used to think of my cat as living with renal failure, rather than dying. Now, pets are always dying of it–even if they live for years.

We are all dying. I think that our society is moving farther and farther into a place where we think we can control everything and that death should not be a part of life, even for our pets. I don’t advocate doing things that are imprudent, but I also think that we can let our pets (and ourselves) live rather than survive in the face of dying. We could die any day. It is part of nature.

No matter that we don’t want to think of it, no matter that we don’t want to let go, dying will happen. The great news is is that so will rebirth. Consider the idea of rebirth and new growth the next time you are mourning the death of a way of life, a pet or even a loved one. Just like death will happen to all things and everyone, so will rebirth.

It doesn’t make it less painful to those left behind, who are attached to those they loved, but it may help us to remember that while our loved ones (or our loved way of life) is here, to appreciate it, knowing that we can’t control the changes that will come in time.

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