Musings from an Edinburgh Celebrant: Dignity in Dying

Two days ago we said goodbye to a dear extended family member, our much-loved dwarf lop rabbit. She was six years old and her ailment was unexpected and sudden.

I did not wake up that morning considering that it would be the day I agreed to end the life of our rabbit. We had no reason to believe she was seriously ill. At worst, we assumed, she might need antibiotics.

Being told by the vets that they were unable to heal our rabbit was a shock. Being asked if I would consent to euthanise her, was something I had not even contemplated before the point of being asked. And yet, less than two hours after being given the choice, after calling my husband and two children, I consented to euthanising her.

Choosing to let our beloved rabbit go peacefully into her final sleep was the right thing to do. Had she lived longer, she would have suffered horribly. Instead, she died calmly, with her bonded partner close by, soothed by the reassuring touch of a human she trusted.

We gave her bonded partner time to come to terms with her death, then lay our rabbit friend to rest with a loving, unscripted ritual in our garden. It was a beautiful, flower-blessed ending to a fulfilling life.

I’ve since been unable to stop thinking about the ease with which I was allowed to make that necessary decision. And the lack of control we humans have over our own deaths, should we face the same sudden terminal prognosis.

As someone who has lost both parents and an aunt to cancer, and witnessed the anguished endings that can bring, I know with absolute certainty that I would far rather choose to drift into my final sleep, surrounded by my family. I would far rather gift my loved ones the chance to say their goodbyes with strong hearts untainted by final memories they wish they could forget.

I have always wholeheartedly supported the Dignity in Dying campaign. Today, I have signed up as a member. Discover their important work here:

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