One of the things I feel called to do with my Reiki practice is to help animals and their families with loss and saying good-bye. To serve in this way I have cultivated relationships with local veterinarians who offer at-home euthanasia services. On our peninsula there are four such Vets, all acting upon callings of their own. It is both an opportunity and a blessing to offer Reiki and massage (I am an animal massage therapist as well) to dying animals, their other human and animal family members and to the very environment they are leaving. Being invited to help create a peaceful space for this part of life is a great application for humility and gratitude and can be very meaningful for all. Doing this for Oliver simply was not simple.
The situation was that my 78 year old sister-in-law, beginning to be frail and reclusive, was not able to adequately care for her 15 year old Westie and ultimately had to surrender him on Condo association and Court order. Very complicated situation but I was certain that the dog could not be rehomed and was suffering in subtle but clear ways. I was asked to facilitate a home euthanasia and support Oliver and the Vet with Reiki and massage. Oliver was not my favorite dog! Over the years he had vomited, pee’d and poop’d in my home, accosted my dogs and been genuinely unfriendly. He was, however, a noble and trusted companion to my SIL through many difficult times of her life and for this I loved him.
The hardest part in agreeing to do this was disconnecting from the complicated, emotional and personal baggage in order to be a supportive vessel for whatever Oliver needed to pass peacefully. I was also working with a Vet I had wanted to meet but had not yet met and who I would like to work with in the future. In a practical way, Oliver offered me the portal to help others through the relationship with these special Vets. My main learning was how to create a healing Reiki space when the path is personally, logistically and emotionally complicated. Gratefully, my experiences with SARA and in practice helped me to understand where I had to be and how I had to be in order to offer Reiki in these circumstances.
I made the arrangements with the Vet who was extremely open and welcoming to my wanting to create a Reiki space for Oliver’s passing. The arrangements were difficult both in terms of the personal turmoil of the owner, my SIL, and of the logistics and constraints of my life. I began the Reiki space meditation the day before, offering distance Reiki and getting to a point of presence myself. The morning of, I was at the shelter for two hours just before, and it was such a blessing to have that time and environment to prepare myself. Oliver was brought to my house, arriving about 20 minutes before the Vet. My son took my animals to another part of the house and my husband was there to support his sister. Oliver was able to explore the yard, something he was never allowed to do, and seemed greatly moved by the smells and sounds of nature. He had sadly not been outside for some time and though stressed, was so happy to be “free” and connected in that way. After the 20 minutes where we let him wander he came to his favorite bed and stopped for treats. The Vet arrived and supported my SIL and did the necessary paperwork while I sat with Oliver who was already making the transition. In the many times I have seen animals at this point in their lives, in the shelter and elsewhere, there is often a sort of life surge that looks like health and optimism in the minutes before injection and peace. It is alarming to some because it mimics good health energy when really I believe it is preparatory phase, a knowing perhaps of the release and peace of what comes next.
In any case, this was how Oliver went. With emotional lightness and comfort in spite of physical discomfort, he settled down on his bed for the sedative before the lethal injection. The Vet was so full of connection and grace, so comforting and caring, so generous with the time and process. Her grace allowed me the time to create a space for all of us to support Oliver’s passing. I experienced an unexpected calm and peace myself and was conscious of the incongruity with the outward condition of anxiety and sadness and even the symbolism of this woman losing her companion because of decreasing ability herself. It was simply, or not so simply, a sacred experience. Thank you Oliver.