It is late on Wednesday evening, December 18, 2012 and I am finally sitting down to write something that I think is important to share with my readers. I am getting back to performing book reviews and the one I am about to share was not on the scheduled radar. In fact, I have been very remiss in posting all of my reviews...I think I am about 12 behind schedule. I hope to catch up and post all of them over the next couple of weeks, because the fact is, I've been working two jobs and reading, and reading, and reading in between, but have had very little time for anything else. This past week or so has been even crazier with more work than I care to mention, but that is another story for another blog.
So without further ado...here is my next book review.
A week ago, a request came from a fellow writer asking if anyone wanted to review her book. Naturally, I said yes, not even knowing what the book would be about. All I knew was that it was going to be a "tear-jerker deluxe". Always up for those type of books and considering what I had been reading lately, I thought it would be a nice change of pace.
When Ginae B. McDonald emailed me the book, I read the title Euthanasia and the Empath, I was first taken aback. It was not what I was expecting. I tend not to read this type of genre, but then I thought to myself, "What kind of reviewer would I be if I didn't review all types of books?" My reply to that was "a pretty crappy one". Good reviewers read whatever comes there way and provides an honest insight into the book no matter what the topic. So, I forged ahead.
When I started to read Euthanasia and the Empath, I was pleasantly surprised. What was I dreading? There was no macabre or gross parts. Actually, what followed was an empathic woman's story of dealing with pet euthanasia. It begins with a recounting of how she developed a sensitivity or bond, if you will, to the animals whom she crosses paths. Reading this gave me an insight to another side of the woman whom I have come to know through her writing.
Ms. McDonald introduces us to Mao, her beloved pet, and shares with the reader how they become so close that he is referred to as her son. I found this to be truly believable. Dogs love unconditionally, are really smart and know when they are treated really well or really bad. While they may not be able to talk, they become one of the family simply by weaving themselves into the fabric of their owner's life. So the fact that Ginae refers to Mao as her son, it is not surprising to me in the least.
Most dogs don't have a long life in comparison to us humans. The phrase "dog years" is very true in the sense that by the time a dog gets to be eight, nine, ten years old, it slows down and becomes less active like humans would when they reach 70, 80, 90 years of age. At age 11, Mao is really old, his body is failing and the author has come to the realization that her beloved's time has come.
What follows is raw, deeply revealing, and at moments, gut wrenching. Ginae's empathic abilities has put her in a position where she finds no solace in the decision to be made nor in the act itself. Worse yet is the fact that she must go through this not once in her life, not twice, but three times. No one is shielded from death. It is a fact of life. To become a pet owner means accepting the unwritten rule that death will happen more frequently. But to make a conscious decision to euthanize a pet when it is sick or can no longer function due to age complications is even harder to handle. While some may deal with it easily, empathic people tend to suffer emotionally far greater than the average person. However, the flip side to this is that empaths are more aware with everything around them; recognizing things that are not so easily seen; such as in Ginae's case of the rare yellow butterfly.
The rest of this short read discusses the five stages of grief and how the author worked through each of them with the loss of her beloved pets. Finally, Ginae ends with a section on coping, what she did to get through, and how her empathic ability was helpful.
I believe that the importance of this book is knowing that it is okay to grieve when we are put in a position to have to do things that we don't want to do, but know in our hearts that we must do them. No one wants to have to put their pet down, but when their health deteriorates to the point where they can no longer live a comfortable life due to pain or illness, it must be done because it is the right thing to do. Recognizing that a pet's life may be over in the physical realm, but their spirit will always live on in the hearts of all the lives they touched.
As a side note, I have dealt with this only once in my life. I was away at college and knew from the last time I was home that my dog, Charlie, didn't have much time left. I remember vividly waking up that morning in school and saying that he was going to die that day. My mom called me later that night and told me. My parents came to pick me up for Spring Break the next weekend. We decided to take a small trip because none of us wanted to be in the house together, but alone with thoughts of our beloved member of the family that was no longer there. As I write this review now, it's beginning to make sense and I think I can finally put a name to this uncanny ability to feel things far more than the average...I believe it's called empathy.