Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

The Time is Drawing Near



Back in September, we thought we were losing our beloved Taffy. She is still here and it is almost February. It has been one of the most emotional and difficult endings I have had to make decisions about.

Obviously, you can’t talk to an animal which is the hardest part for me to deal with. I can’t ask her the questions I ask humans. What gives your life meaning? How long do you want to stay? I’ve never been in a place where Medically Assisted Death is an option for people, but euthanasia has always been an option for animals


Our house is divided and it has been since September. I am afraid of waiting too long. The rest of the house is afraid of her death too soon. I took some of my family in December to the vet with me. He was surprised Taffy was still here. After examining her, he understood why our house was in conflict. Her symptoms are confusing and true to the Thiel trait, they are also unusual. He said he has no problem offering his opinion when asked but in our case, he is stumped.

“If you decide today is the day, I totally support you. If you decide this is not the time, I totally support you.”

It actually helped me to know I wasn’t missing something. I’ve never had such a hard time knowing when. People love to say, “You will know when it’s time” but I simply don’t think that applies in this case.

I went to see the vet again last week. He noticed a definite decline from six weeks earlier. She now has something wrong in her colon. We could do dozens of tests, spend a ton of money, but he is 98% sure it would only be information. He is almost certain we wouldn’t discover something that could actually be fixed. I decided not to pursue tests, mostly because why would I put her through all that?


He did articulate things that made sense to me. She doesn’t seem to be suffering. However, she doesn’t feel well. And she never does. She struggles with her breathing and basically feels crummy. This is where the inability to talk is tough. Some would say as long as they weren’t suffering, they would want to stay alive. (And by the way, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that at all.) But others would say if they are going to feel crummy for the rest of their lives and only get worse, they would prefer to be done. I think that describes my dad. It would also describe me.

I still lean towards soon because I can barely stand to look at her when she is having a hard time. I can’t wrap around waiting until she is actually suffering. I’m not even sure what the difference is. My family continues to feel like she would want to be here. Are they in denial? Or are they right?

I hate this.

I had a friend who is a huge dog person and knows quite a bit come and spend some time here when she offered to do so. At first, she said that if she is still willing to take walks (even if slow) that should be the benchmark. After spending more time watching her, she changed her mind. She said if Taffy was hers, it would be time. One of her questions is, would we be stealing something good from her down the road if she wasn’t here? It is doubtful. We would however, spare her from feeling worse.

I think it will be soon, but the decision isn’t quite made yet. Say some prayers for all of us. She’s been my shadow for 11 years so this is hard. My family has bonded with her just as long. And all of us have had more loss in our lives than we thoughts we could endure.

Dave, Taffy

Author: Help for Healing

My name is Darcy Thiel. What people say they appreciate most about me is my genuine nature. I utilize my professional and personal experiences to increase my understanding and compassion to help others. My career has many faces, so let me tell you about a few. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State and am a couple and family therapist. As an Adult Planning Specialist and End of Life Doula, I take my experiences with my parents’ and husband's illnesses and passing to help others navigate the crazy, complicated medical world we live in. This dovetails with the books I have written. Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey with Cancer, the prequel to Life After Death, on This Side of Heaven is an honest and raw perspective on coping with the diagnosis and subsequent loss of Tim, my spouse. I have done extensive speaking on the above topics through live audiences, radio shows, and an occasional TV spot. For more information, see my websites at,, or Copyright Help for Healing by Darcy Thiel © 2012-2019. All rights reserved.

8 thoughts on “The Time is Drawing Near

  1. Well, you know I just went through this with my sweet CeeCee. She has been my baby for 16 yrs.
    I do think it’s TRUE that you will know…you will just know. If you are conflicted, you don’t know.
    CeeCee got sick while I was on a cruise. The cat sitter was beside herself. It was hard to talk to the vet because we were at sea.
    I cut my trip short to get home to her. And I was prepared for the worst to put her down. But when I saw her, I knew it was not time. She knew us, purred and seemed cheered to see us.
    She came home and showed improvement. She was eating and drinking, purring and using the litter box.
    A follow up visit to vet took her off pain med. She didnt need it.
    She dragged her paralyzed body across the kitchen floor. She wanted OUT of her quiet room.
    Was her quality of life great? Certainly not. Good? No. Fair…maybe. she slept.a lot and snuggled. She was a cat, and an old one. What should she be doing?
    I have to say…using ‘enjoying a walk is a really, really high bar. She is old and at the minimum, achy. Its cold. Why be surprised she doesn’t love it?
    My bar…does she know you and the family? Perk up a bit? Eat a bit? Getting outside to potty? Not crying or yelping in pain?
    I was happy to have the choice to euthanize my baby. I wish my super power was to be able to speak to my sick pets. But only when they are sick or hurting. (I dont need a guilt trip about being out too late!)
    I really have to say…I think there has to be agreement about when to euthanize. She is everyone’s pet. Ask each person to really think about who they are making the decision for themselves or the pup? Dont project what you may want for yourself at the end of your life on the pup. They are much simpler creatures. They only want their people, when it comes right down to it.
    You do not want people to always be second guessing themselves or YOU.
    Truly you will all ‘just know.”
    CeeCee took a turn for the worse, she could no longer stand ,she howled in pain. She looked literally broken. Broken. Her eyes were empty. Empty and glazed.
    It was very, very clear. Twenty days from coming home from the hospital. They were decent, comfy, cozy days for her.

    I’m so so sorry you and your family have this struggle, Darcy.
    It is because you all love her so much that it is so hard…and hurts so bad.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story; it has given me so much to think about. It is hard because my kids won’t really talk to me other than saying that don’t want her to go. To have them consider who they are saying that for is exactly the right question, but one I know they will not even answer. My other thought, is that I do not want to wait until she is howling in pain. I don’t want a moment of that suffering for her before it’s the right time. I don’t think she needs to get to that point… But other than that, all of your other “criteria” so to speak are great considerations that should demand my attention. Thanks again friend!

  2. Prayers for all of you, and Taffy too!

  3. Dearest Darcy: It’s so very hard to say goodbye to our fur-babies. Taffy is very, very special. However, as you are her primary caretaker, it falls to you to help make that decision to send her over the Rainbow Bridge. Your compassion will make you decide — when the time is right for you and your family.

  4. Prayers daily. Been a while since I’ve seen her but I will assure you now is not time. She’s still happy and you know I know her. You will know when she’s had enough, trust me. And we all be here for you whenever that may be. Love that dog and face. 🙂

  5. Thanks Mark! We should talk more next time you stop over… Thanks for loving her!

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