My husband, Jim, and I have been on the receiving end of caring kneading from some of our cats over the years. Mercie (rest her soul) used to knead the back of my neck in bed at night which was especially welcome when I had a headache. The methodical push of her soft-padded paws accompanied by her melodic, low purring was better medicine than the ibuprofen I’d taken before going to bed. Just the other night when Jim wasn’t feeling well, Sundae seemed to sense this and kneaded his stomach in all directions with positive effect. We know others who have similar stories about the comfort and care they receive from their furry friends. It’s not difficult to find a story online about a cat in a nursing home who lays on the bed of a resident as they take their final breaths; or a dog that can sniff out cancer. Animals are so well connected to the metaphysical; they just seem to “know” when it’s time to provide comfort or time to let go.
A few weeks ago, we chose to end the suffering of our oldest cat, Soxie, whose final seizure was so intense and vivid, she seemed possessed. It was horrifying to watch and hear; it will be a very long time before I can close my eyes and not see what she experienced. When she was able, she retreated to an odd location where she’d typically go when she wasn’t feeling well. She knew it was her time and she was “going inward” to prepare herself … and us.
Animals just seem to “know.”
We humans are animals too; some would say more evolved than cats and dogs. Perhaps we’re more evolved in matters of business, literacy, art, and intelligence, but I’m not certain we are more emotional or more compassionate.
Some of us have such difficulty listening to our intuition when someone we love is sick or dying. We tend to pursue all possible healthcare options until there are no more medical interventions to impede the natural progression of disease or age. We focus on the next treatment option, the next surgical procedure, or the next drug; sometimes at the exclusion of the emotional and metaphysical components of the one who suffers. This focus is sometimes so intense that we forget to look at the person right in front of us (or in the mirror) and ask “what do you need at this moment” or “how can I care for you today.”
Some people spend so much energy waiting for the other shoe to drop, we forget that there’s already one foot immersed in the disease and daily symptoms, or contemplating their final hours.
We need to pay more attention to our “animal” intuition. We need to listen to those we love who are living with a chronic illness or a terminal disease. We know our bodies and our minds better than anyone else in our life – family, friends, healthcare professionals, clergy. Be mindful of the one who suffers and seek to understand what they need. We need to recognize when it’s time to stop doing and just be still. Then, provide care and compassion like we just seem to “know.”
©2017 Caring Choices