When our animal family members leave us, it’s heartbreaking. When they’re dying, it feels like we’re dying too, and like with anyone we love, it’s hard to witness suffering. I often wish I was a Reiki Master when my family’s dog was in his final stage of life well over a decade ago. He had excellent medical care, and while he was in pretty good spirits right till the end, it was obvious that he was still in pain.
The good news is that there are lots of different ways to complement veterinary care and help your animal feel more comfortable both physically and emotionally. Reiki certainly isn’t the only way to offer support, but it’s a wonderful therapy for providing gentle, effective pain relief and comfort for those who are at, or moving towards, the end of their lives. Years ago, when I started volunteering at a local hospice and saw what Reiki could do for dying people, I knew I wanted to offer the same service to animals.
My last experience was with a service dog named Max. His guardian wanted to honour him for all the hard work and love he gave her when he was healthy and strong. Because of his condition, he could no longer act as her service animal. When Max was in pain, he would pant quite heavily and exhibit a lot of anxiety. When he received Reiki, his panting would stop and he would become relaxed. As helpful as sessions were for Max, it was touching to see how deeply his pain relief affected his guardian. Watching her dog become more and more comfortable eased her own grief, and helped her feel like she was able to give him something meaningful during his final months.
People have asked me if it’s depressing to work with a dying animal. On the contrary, I find it very peaceful and fulfilling. It’s such a vulnerable and honest time to be invited into a being’s life. Reiki is a wonderful way to support your animal during this difficult time; many people have found that it’s a profound and loving way to say ‘thank you’.