Day 2759: Right and wrong

Members of my family are debating what’s right and wrong regarding our cat Oscar’s end-of-life experience.  Twice I have scheduled home euthanasia for Oscar on a Monday and twice I have cancelled that appointment to allow Oscar to move further along to a natural death.  It’s difficult to tell what’s right and what’s wrong with Oscar, because he

  •  continues to engage with us,
  • eats a little every once in a while,
  • rarely shows obvious signs of pain,
  • is very unsteady,
  • is so good-natured he rarely complains, and
  •  is so wonderful that we want as much time with him as we can get.

It might be right and wrong that I scheduled a phone consultation about Oscar’s quality of life tonight and another home euthanasia visit tomorrow (which I might cancel again).

Michael, Aaron, and I have spent many hours discussing what’s right and wrong with Oscar. We wonder if we are being selfish if we keep him alive and we wonder if we are being selfish if we euthanize him. Right and wrong can be subjective, especially in a situation like this one.

I’ve asked Oscar what’s right and wrong for him, but he hasn’t told me.

Do you see right and wrong in my photos from yesterday?













That last image might show right and wrong ways to respond to a difficult person. With all that’s wrong in the world, it’s right to speak up and effectively act for change.

I sometimes worry that I’m doing wrong even when I’m doing right, so it was nice to get this feedback for my annual review from a doctor I work with:

Ann is the most amazing social worker in Boston. My patients often tell me “Ann is life changing.” She has an ability to connect and help any patient I send her way no matter their story or background. She has had a tremendous impact on even my most challenging complex patients. I would send my own family members to her in a heartbeat. She amazes me more and more each year. I feel so lucky to have her on my team. I have seen her in action a few times (providing therapy to my patients in front of me) and she is clearly a master of masters.
One patient told me “if the world had more Ann Koplow’s it would be a better place. My solution to violence and racism and suffering is to provide each Family an Ann.”

It may not be right for that doctor to claim I’m the most amazing social worker in Boston if she hasn’t met all of them (which she hasn’t), but I defend her right to say it.   I don’t know what’s right or wrong to say about that patient’s proposed solution to violence and racism and suffering.

Here‘s a song that starts with the lyrics “do me wrong, do me right”:

I’ll be lonelier when Oscar leaves us, no matter when or how.  (That last sentence is an “I” statement, a right way to own one’s feelings and minimize defensive reactions.)

There’s nothing wrong about expressing thoughts and feelings, so please express yours in a comment right below this post.

Gratitude always seems right, so thanks to all who help me blog each and every right and wrong day, including YOU.


Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

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44 thoughts on “Day 2759: Right and wrong

  1. i totally understand every word of your wondering about what the right thing to do for oscar is. the important thing is that you are considering his needs and reality over yours as the ones who love him. the hardest thing to do, because we often mix them together, when dealing with a loved one who loves us back. one of my cats from my past, sugar, was nearing the end and she and i discussed it as best we could, and i felt she was ready. 3 times i took her to the vet, and each time a different daughter came with me for support. each time, the vet pumped her up a bit and sent her home. after the 3rd time, my daughters let me come to the timing myself. when i felt it was continuing to be hard for her to get through a day, and was doing it for me, we went back and i told the vet, we’d made our peace and were ready. he cried and agreed and he was such a compassionate person that it was really hard for him. after, he said that i had made the right decision. i think you know when you know and will do what is right, whenever that moment comes. my heart goes out to all of you, it is so hard on so many levels. oscar is lucky to have you all as his family.

  2. “Love is proved the moment you let go of someone because they need you to.”
    ― Shannon L. Alder

  3. It’s right to question your sweet kitty and pick up your clues there. No suffering? Enjoy another day! You’ll know when life is wrong for your furry friend. God bless your soft heart, Ann.

  4. I could not put it better than Beth has done and I am convinced that Oscar will tell you when is the right time.

  5. It’s such a difficult decision to make. For my Rottweiler, Monster we choose to let him go naturally. And like Oscar, he was still alert, eating well, and not in much pain. But I could feel strongly in my heart the day he was going to leave us. And on that day I can’t remember how many times I cried cos I was not ready to let him go. Hubby spent some time with him after his meal that day and he just slipped away peacefully in his arms. There’s no right or wrong, but for me I would prefer to let them go naturally. My thoughts are with you, my dear friend. Hugs…(っ*´∀`*)っ(っ*´∀`*)っ(っ*´∀`*)っ♡

    • Today is the day that Oscar is going to leave us, either on his own or with assistance. Your consistent love and support have made this path much easier for me, my friend.

      • Thank you for sharing about sweet Oscar! He’s truly blessed to have a such a caring owner like you. (≚ᄌ≚)ℒℴѵℯ❤

  6. Dreamer9177

    I hate to say it like this, but constantly changing your mind about what to do isn’t making things any easier. If you believe that it is time to let Oscar go, then do so. If you believe that he should be with you as long as possible, so be it. The indecision is what is making you feel this way. Oscar knows that he is loved, and that you will make the best decision for him.

  7. It appears that Oscar wants to stay with you three a bit longer as much as you want more time with him, Ann.
    I hope you can Cherish these final days as much as your emotional rollercoaster will allow. I am adoring our sweet kitty of this blog space from your photos and words.

  8. puella33

    I know that you make decisions in good conscience. I don’t know what to suggest to you regarding Oscar, because we may have different perspectives on death, and I wouldn’t want to impose my views on you.

  9. Debbie T

    What nice feedback to receive about your work as a therapist! I see a great application for cloning here.

  10. As you know, the ‘Natural Death’ approach for pets is a relatively new field in the U.S .and I suppose if you were to go along with it, you know it takes time and courage and it’s very similar to that of a human. You would have to be prepared to deal with what lies ahead. It’s the ‘DNR’ except it’s of the pet, not of the human. He will go through the natural dying stages and you have to be okay with that, and not be shocked by it.

    It’s so personal. I suppose if you choose this route, your life routine continues normal. You can just separate a spot for him, and separate a few hours daily for his dying process to be him. At this point he would be bedridden. It would be sooner than expected. He’s cachectic.

    • Oh, I see, it was going to be a home euthanasia. I apologize, I thought he was dying a natural death. I read between the lines of what you were saying and I understand. As I was saying, the ‘natural death’ is a new field and I had to read about the approach as it’s taught in seminars, books an online. However, I have a brother in law who refused to euthanize his dog and he didn’t have to take the classes to have the dog die in his house.

      • Today is Oscar’s last day and we shall see if it is a natural death or an assisted one. Thanks for your help in this process, Maria.

  11. Aw sweet little Oscar. Sending love to all of you… ❤

  12. I know there’s no easy way to make the decision, but I also know Oscar loves and trusts you, and that you, Aaron, and Michael feel the same way about him. And that’s why I know whatever choice you make will be right.

  13. Sometimes trying to work out what is the right thing to do can be difficult all we can do is pray and hope what we do is the right thing.

  14. It’s so hard coming to the decision. Rather than thinking right vs wrong, I like to observe how much curiosity, engagement and joy there is in their day and how much willingness to eats or discomfort and pain. And when it comes to a day without joy, and they are only going through the motions to please us, then it’s time. Hold him close, love him and let him go. When we can take away pain, it is the right thing.
    Hugs to you all 💕🙏💕

    • Today is the day when I no longer see the joy in Oscar. We are holding him close, loving him, and letting him go. Hugs from all of us to you, my friend. ❤

  15. My prayer for you is peace with any decision you make for Oscar. I lost my Persian kitty, Dougy, on the 15th. I just found him dead, no warning, and he was only nine years old. As teary as the last week’s been, I am glad I didn’t have to go through the decision you have ahead of you. Hugs for you; “scritches” and love for Oscar. It’s never is easy, eh, but we usually live through it, sadder, grateful to have had that pet or person in our lives.

    • Doug, I am so sorry to hear about the recent passing of your beloved kitty. Hugs and gratitude to you, my friend.

      • Thank you, Ann. These are treacherous times for a person who tries to maintain positive, yet the death of Dougy brought the good people in my life out by the scores. That reminded me I’ve be remiss in counting my blessings each day, something I did in past in the form of a simple prayer of thanks. You are part of that prayer for today!

  16. Oh Ann, I am so sorry to read about Oscar. There’s just no easy way to say goodbye to these beloved family members. I know he feels your love and compassion. It is right for you to listen to your heart… Holding you close to mine…. xo, L

  17. Pingback: Day 2797: They can’t take that away | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  18. Pingback: Day 2797: They can’t take that away | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  19. An impossible question to which I hope Oscar will provide the answer.

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