Losing a family pet is hard. For some, it feels like you’ve lost your best friend.
Most animal lovers have had similar experiences with a feline or canine extension of the family. The dog who became your son’s best mate; always running at the park and playing ball in the yard. The cat who kept you company in that tiny first apartment when you lived alone and had no one to talk to. The lap dog that grandma always worried about and couldn’t wait to get home to. Or maybe it was the horse that you first learned ride. These friendships are often strong and true but, inevitably, they come to an end, usually because of the unavoidable reality that our life expectancy exceeds theirs. This is the hard part.
This is the part where you watch your cat lose its fur and your playful dog struggle to stand. As right-to-die legislation is approved in California, we are reminded that our beloved pets have always had this right – and it didn’t make the decision any easier. How does anyone decide when to end the suffering of their dying friend? How does someone decide whether to pay for that expensive cancer treatment? How does one know whether their canine-child would prefer enduring pain or sleep-inducing medication? It’s no small task to end the life of a loved one, even when you know they’re suffering. If only we could ask…
Yet, as humans, we have the ability to largely solve this agonizing predicament for our loved ones. We have the power to speak and to write down our preferences for enduring pain and to give authority to end our lives. We have the privilege of choice and direction to our children that it is “okay” to end our suffering and to relieve them of the burden of deciding for themselves. This ability comes in the form of an Advance Health Care Directive.
An Advance Health Care Directive is a legal document that allows a person to make end-of-life decisions for themselves in writing. These decisions include: whether to administer pain relief; whether to treat for disease if an individual is in a coma or otherwise unresponsive; and under what circumstances it is okay to die. Additionally, the Advance Health Care Directive allows a person to designate an agent that can make any other health care decisions if the individual is unable to do so. This includes making course-of-treatment decisions if a person becomes seriously injured. Family members often have very different beliefs and philosophies about medical treatment. Consider that one relative may believe in medicated treatment while the other adamantly insists on herbal supplements.
Don’t put your loved ones through the heartbreaking decision and lasting guilt of deciding how to treat you or when do end your suffering. Contact an estate planning attorney and make the hard decisions while you’re healthy. California’s Right to Die Bill by the Editorial Board. Published September 22, 2015 at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/opinion/californias-right-to-die-bill.html?_r=0.
For more information visit Tara Burd, San Diego Civil Law Attorney’s “Who Is Page” in the San Diego Professional Journal at http://whois.sandiegoprofessionaljournal.com/tara-burd-civil-law-attorney or her website at http://www.TBurdLawGroup.com.
San Diego Civil Litigation Attorney – Tara Burd
You may contact her at her office at:
T.Burd Law Group
945 Fourth Ave., #307
San Diego, CA 92101
Or, by telephone at (858) 215-2873.